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Department  of  Special  Collections 


Olive   Percival 

los  angeles  author 

and  bibliophile 




Depaitnu'iit  of  Special  Collections 





Photograph  of  Olive  Percival. 
(Courtesy  of  Mildred  Bryant  Brooks.) 

Olive    Percival 

Los  Angeles  Author 

AND  Bibliophile 


With  Brief  Descriptions  of  the  Olive  Percival  Collections  at 

The  Denison  Library  by  Judy  Harvey  Saliah 

The  Huntington  Library  by  Jane  Apostol 

Special  Collections,  UCLA  by  Dan  Luckenbill 

Department  of  Special  (Aillections 

University  Research  Library 

University  of  Clalijomia 

Los  Aiii^eles 


Copyright  1992:  The  Regents  of  the  University  of  California 



"When  I  go  into  a  bookstore  these  days,  my  heart  beats 
wildly,  my  cheeks  burn  and  I  hardly  breathe  until  I  am  outside 
again,"  Miss  Olive  Percival  wrote  in  her  diary  in  1896.  "How 
splendid  a  thing  it  would  be  to  have  one  thousand  dollars  to 
buy  books  with!  Ah!  me!"  One  thousand  dollars  remained  a 
lordly  sum  to  a  woman  whose  salary  as  an  insurance  clerk  in 
Los  Angeles  never  exceeded  $150  a  month. 

By  the  time  of  her  death  in  1945,  however,  she  had  built  a 
collection  of  ten  thousand  books.  Her  house  was  crammed  with 
a  score  of  other  collections  as  well,  among  them  hats,  dolls, 
daguerreotypes,  silver,  textiles,  quilts,  fans,  bookplates,  La- 
lique,  and  Oriental  art. 

Olive  May  Graves  Percival  was  born  on  July  1,  1869,  in  a 
log  cabin  on  her  family's  debt-ridden  farm  near  Sheffield, 
Illinois.  She  claimed  to  have  few  pleasant  memories  of  her 
childhood,  which  was  darkened  by  parental  discord.  Her  father 
died  when  she  was  ten,  and  for  the  next  fifty  years  her  closest 
companion  was  her  strong-willed  and  often  sharp-tongued 
mother,  Helen  Mason  Percival.  Olive's  adored  younger  sister, 
Edna,  died  in  1893  at  the  age  of  seventeen.  An  older  brother, 
Leo,  remained  aloof  from  the  family. 

In  1887  Helen  Percival  and  her  daughters  moved  to  Los 
Angeles,  lured  by  reports  of  a  city  "where  house-plants  never 
froze  and  where,  even  at  Christmas-time,  ripe  oranges  hung 
on  the  trees."   Olive  arrived  in  May  and  rode  a  mule-car  from 


the  depot  to  the  cottage  on  6th  Street,  where  her  mother  had 
taken  lodgings.  The  city  was  fragrant  with  honeysuckle,  a  happy 
welcome  for  someone  who  always  treasured  flowers.  Main 
Street  was  still  unpaved,  but  Los  Angeles  had  electric  lights 
and  boasted  a  few  buildings  that  were  four  stories  high. 

Until  1891  Olive  Percival  was  a  saleswoman  in  the  People's 
Store  of  A-  Hamburger  &  Sons,  which  three  decades  later 
would  become  a  branch  of  the  May  Company.  Her  second  job 
("all  longhand  work")  was  with  McLellan  &  Golsh,  fire  in- 
surance agents.  In  1895  she  became  Sub-Agency  Clerk  with 
the  Home  Insurance  Company,  and  remained  with  the  com- 
pany for  more  than  thirty  years.  Although  admired  as  a 
successful  businesswoman,  she  detested  office  work  and  called 
it  a  soul-benumbing  routine.  Wistfully  she  dreamed  of  some 
other  career:  as  poet,  essayist,  landscape  painter,  art  lecturer, 
antiquarian,  doll's  milliner,  botanist,  or  chef.  To  some  extent 
she  was  all  of  these,  but  achievement  fell  short  of  her  ambition. 

Soon  after  her  arrival  in  Los  Angeles,  Olive  Percival  began 
to  keep  a  diary.  Although  she  burned  many  of  the  volumes, 
twenty-three  remain,  chronicling  her  life  in  California  until 
1944.  The  first  diary  ('A  Book  of  Miscellanies,"  she  called  it) 
spans  the  years  from  1889  to  1899.  The  entries  reveal  an  artist's 
eye  for  color,  a  poet's  sensitivity  to  nature.  They  also  reveal 
the  young  woman's  lively  range  of  interests,  from  playing 
euchre  to  camping  out  beneath  the  stars.  She  attended  one  of 
the  first  Los  Angeles  exhibits  of  etchings  and  engravings, 
visited  John  Gutzon  Borglum's  studio,  and  wandered  through 
Chinatown  with  artist  Helen  Coan.  She  saw  Bernhardt  in  La 
Tosca  and  heard  Paderewski  play.  At  a  chrysanthemum  show 
she  admired  not  only  the  flowers  but  their  names:  Moon- 


window,  Moon-shadow,  Thousand  Cranes,  Above-the-clouds. 
Active  in  several  organizations,  she  was  secretary  of  the  Ladies' 
Athletic  Club  in  1891  and  a  Woman's  Press  Club  delegate  to 
San  Francisco  in  1897. 

Olive  Percival  began  writing  for  publication  in  1896.  ("I 
want  money,  not  Fame,"  she  candidly  admitted.)  Just  before 
her  twenty-eighth  birthday  she  sold  her  first  poem  and  also  her 
first  article  (a  feature  story  on  Indian  baskets).  "I  thought  $1.50 
a  liberal  price  for  my  inch  of  rhyme,  accepted  by  'Life'  last 
month,"  she  wrote  in  June  18%.  "Today  the  check  for  $24.45 
from  'Demorest'  seems  magnificent  and  I  shall  experiment  with 
a  bank  account.  When  I  am  thirty,  thirty!  perhaps  I  can  have 
a  nice  little  home  for  Mother." 

Despite  a  lament  of  "petty  Successes,  dreary  and  frequent 
Failures,"  Miss  Percival  ended  her  first  diary  on  a  triumphant 
note.  "Yesterday  morning,  bright  and  early,  we  chose  the  site 
for  our  new  house,"  she  said  in  May  1899.  "We  shall  be  under 
our  own  roof-tree  (at  last)  on  my  31st  birthday.  One  year  late." 
She  built  her  two-story,  half-timbered  house  on  the  western 
bank  of  the  Arroyo  Seco,  about  five  miles  north  of  downtown 
Los  Angeles  and  a  hilly  half-mile  walk  from  the  streetcar.  Her 
address  was  on  San  Pascual  Avenue,  in  what  now  is  Highland 
Park  but  then  was  called  Garvanza.  The  picturesque  area 
attracted  many  authors  and  artists,  of  whom  Charles  Fletcher 
Lummis  was  the  best  known  (and  -  by  Miss  Percival  -  the  least 

Mary  Austin,  who  lived  for  a  brief  time  in  Garvanza, 
described  the  Arroyo  as  she  saw  it  at  the  turn  of  the  century. 
"At  most  seasons  of  the  year  [it  is]  a  small  trickle  of  water 
among  stones  in  a  wide,  deep  wash,  overgrown  with  button 


willow  and  sycamores.  .  .  .  Tiny  gold  and  silver  backed  ferns 
climb  down  the  banks  to  drink,  and  as  soon  as  the  spring  freshet 
has  gone  by,  brodiaeas  and  blazing  stars  come  up  between  the 
boulders  worn  as  smooth  as  if  by  hand." 

Olive  Percival  christened  her  country  acre  the  Down-hyl 
Claim.  Here  she  held  memorable  at-homes,  garden  teas,  and 
moon-viewing  parties.  Local  artists,  writers,  and  book-lovers 
were  frequent  guests.  Among  them  were  her  warm  friends  and 
admirers,  poet  Hildegarde  Planner,  naturalist  Charles  Francis 
Saunders,  artists  Julia  and  William  Wendt,  and  bibliophiles 
Alice  Millard  and  Irving  Way.  Visiting  celebrities  -  Alvin 
Langdon  Coburn,  William  Vaughan  Moody,  Vita  Sackville- 
West  -  also  enjoyed  the  hospitality  of  the  Down-hyl  Claim. 

The  hostess  had  visitors  sign  what  she  called  "the  gueste 
bookes  of  Mistresse  Olive  Percival,  Spinster."  A  number  of 
pages  have  her  own  water-color  designs  or  the  art  work  of  her 
guests.  Carl  Oscar  Borg  drew  two  landscapes;  Elmer  Wachtel, 
a  self-portrait;  Ernest  Batchelder,  his  sketching-rabbit  crest.  In 
addition  to  these  artists  -  all  associated  with  what  has  been 
called  the  Arroyo  Culture  -  several  Japanese  visitors  enlivened 
the  guest  books  with  brush  drawings  and  calligraphy. 

Shortly  after  building  the  Down-hyl  Claim,  Miss  Percival 
realized  another  dream  -  travel  in  a  foreign  country.  A  fortnight 
in  Mexico  in  1899  inspired  her  first  book,  Mexico  City:  An 
Idler's  Note-Book.  Chicago  bibliophile  and  publisher  Herbert 
S.  Stone  issued  the  little  book  in  1901.  It  received  many 

favorable  reviews,  including  one  in  \hc  Mexico  City  Herald,  which 

called  the  author  "a  graceful  and  simpatica  impressionist." 

Charles  E  Lummis  dismissed  the  book,  however,  as  "a  prettily 

made  ecstacy  over  a  very  brief  visit  to  the  ancient  capital." 


Illustrations  for  the  book  include  two  photographs  taken 
by  Miss  Percival.  Her  photographs  also  helped  illustrate  Jane 
Torrey  Connor's  serial  novel,  "A  Red  Parasol  in  Mexico,"  which 
appeared  in  Out  West  in  1908.  Miss  Percival  enjoyed  using  a 
camera,  and  she  was  especially  proud  of  her  views  of  the  sea 
and  the  picturesque  old  breakwater  at  San  Pedro,  The  well- 
known  Santa  Barbara  photographer  W.  Edwin  Gledhill  thought 
the  pictures  worthy  of  being  exhibited  in  New  York. 

Miss  Percival  often  visited  the  artists'  colony  in  San  Pedro 
with  writer  Amanda  Mathews,  one  of  her  Arroyo  neighbors. 
Both  women  had  stories  in  From  the  Old  Pueblo,  and  Other 
Tales,  a  little  book  published  in  1902.  A  few  years  later  the 
friends  enjoyed  a  birthday  party  in  San  Pedro.  'Amanda  is  going 
to  make  a  fete  for  me,"  said  a  cheerful  note  in  the  diary. 
"Because  I  prefer  fresh  mackerel  to  cake,  my  candles  are  to 
illuminate  a  fish!" 

In  1903  (the  first  year  since  1899  for  which  there  is  a  diary) 
Miss  Percival  visited  San  Francisco,  where  she  met  Jack  Lon- 
don at  a  dinner  party.  Years  later,  in  notes  she  called  biographi- 
cal trivia,  she  jotted  down  her  impressions  of  the  author.  "Boy! 
Soft  flannel  shirt  -  curls.  Wanted  to  talk  Socialism.  I  wanted 
to  talk  Chinese  Bowls  as  I  had  been  in  cellars  of  Chinatown 
all  afternoon,  picking  over  barrels  of  them!" 

Chinatown  excursions  -  whether  in  San  Francisco  or  Los 
Angeles  -  delighted  her.  She  photographed  in  both  cities  -  as 
early  as  1894  in  Los  Angeles.  The  photographs  document  an 
era  that  she  treasured  for  its  exotic  flavor.  In  1910  she  wrote 
regretfully  of  Old  Chinatown:  "How  it  has  changed  since  1887!  The 

men  wear  tan  shoCvS;  Fedora  hats;  trousers  and  frocks  of  American 

wool,  instead  of  black  linen,  blue  cotton,  pongee,  brocade!" 


Miss  Percival  wrote  a  number  of  short  stories  with  a 
Chinatown  setting.  She  sold  a  few,  but  could  interest  no  one 
in  publishing  the  stories  as  a  book  -  a  book  she  planned  to 
dedicate  to  a  Chinese  tea  peddler  she  had  known  for  fifteen 
years.  In  rejecting  the  manuscript  Bobbs-Merrill  told  her,  "We 
are,  however,  unwilling  that  it  shall  go  back  without  some 
expression  from  us  of  our  enjoyment  of  your  delicate  touch 
and  your  sympathy  with  the  Oriental  mind  and  character.  Could 
you  do  something  in  the  way  of  a  novel  that  would  be  as  artistic 

as  these  short  stories,  we  should  certainly  be  able  to  consider 

1  "^ 
it  very  seriously."     Although  she  tried,  she  was  never  able  to 

write  a  novel,  or  what  she  called  a  "seller." 

In  1911  she  did  publish  a  book  of  verse,  Leaf-Shadows  and 
Rose-Drift,  Being  Little  Songs  from  a  Los  Angeles  Garden.  "I 
am  truly  in  a  mental  panic,"  she  wrote  in  1911  after  sending 
off  the  manuscript.  "All  the  jingles  jingled  so  thinly,  so  cheaply 
at  the  last.  (And  I  included  one  that  I  wrote  coming  in  on  the 
car  this  morning  -  merely  because  I  want  the  word  'Peacocks' 
in  my  first  book  of  garden  verse!!)" 

Miss  Percival  had  the  Riverside  Press  print  her  book,  for 
which  she  designed  the  cover.  The  title  and  a  decorative  device 
appeared  on  the  front  and  on  the  back,  suggesting  a  volume 
that  was  Oriental,  as  well  as  Western.  "Few  will  care  for  my  little 
verses,"  she  admitted,  "but  I  want  every  subscriber  to  be  pleased 
with  the  format." ^^  Orders  were  disappointing,  and  she  bridled 
at  the  words  of  Idah  Meacham  Strobridge,  a  friend  and  fellow 
author  who  lived  nearby  on  the  Arroyo.  With  some  annoyance 
she  observed,  "Mrs.  Strobridge . . .  cheerfully  states  she  made  $1000 
on  each  of  her  three  books.  Of  course  her  price  was  $1.75  (mine 
is  $1.25)  and  she  was  a  nuisance  about  making  people  buy." 


Leaf-Shadows  and  Rose-Drift  won  gentle  praise.  Arthur 

Dow,  the  woodcut  artist  and  painter,  said  that  the  poems  were 

"what  pictures  should  be,  harmonies  built  up  in  a  way  that  is 

1 7 

peculiarly  personal  -  put  together  with  perfect  simplicity.' 
Irish  baritone  Brabazon  Lowther  set  eleven  of  the  verses  to 
music  as  "A  California  Garden  Cycle." 

Miss  Percival  first  met  Arthur  Dow  during  a  memorable 
trip  to  the  East  Coast  in  1910.  The  trip  was  both  vacation  and 
rest  cure.  She  was  suffering  from  neuritis  in  both  arms  but 
hoped,  she  said,  to  restore  her  health  with  a  regimen  of  new 
plays,  good  music,  special  exhibits,  and  charming  society.  All 
these  things  she  was  able  to  enjoy  as  the  guest  of  a  wealthy 
friend,  Margaret  Brewer  Fowler,  who  maintained  a  New  York 
apartment  as  well  as  a  home  in  Pasadena. 

A  high  point  of  the  visit  to  New  York  was  a  morning  spent 
looking  at  hundreds  of  Arthur  Dow's  Japanese  prints.  "Some 
of  them  were  all  in  tatters,"  she  wrote;  "only  a  little  piece  of 
one  was  there.  I  finally  told  him,  with  a  laugh,  that  he  bought 
prints  as  I  did:  for  one  piece  of  color,  for  one  good  line,  for 
the  beauty  of  composition  as  well  as  for  all  combined!  He 
thought  me  appreciative  and  discriminating  and  that  made  me 
very  happy." 

During  her  holiday  Miss  Percival  saw  other  notable  collec- 
tions: among  them  the  Morse  collection  of  Japanese  pottery 
in  Boston  and  the  Walters  collection  of  Oriental  porcelain  in 
Baltimore.  Charles  Lang  Freer,  in  Detroit,  showed  her  rare 
examples  of  Chinese  and  Japanese  ceramics,  some  of  his 
treasured  works  by  James  McNeill  Whistler,  and  Whistler's 
magnificent  Peacock  Room.  (He  also  subjected  her  to  what 
she  called  an  unhappifying  tirade  on  Whistler's  biographers. 


Elizabeth  and  Joseph  Pennell.)  In  New  York  she  saw  a  number 
of  studios  and  galleries,  visited  the  Art  Workers'  Club  for 
Women,  attended  the  opening  of  a  Whistler  exhibit  at  the 
Metropolitan  Museum,  and  caught  a  glimpse  of  "Blue  Boy"  at 
the  Lotos  Club  before  it  traveled  on  to  Henry  Huntington's 
San  Marino  mansion. 

Miss  Percival  received  a  warm  welcome  in  New  York  from 
old  friends  and  from  new  acquaintances.  One  of  the  many  new 
friends  that  she  made  was  Elizabeth  Custer  (widow  of  General 
George  Armstrong  Custer),  who  gave  a  tea  in  her  honor.  In 
Philadelphia  she  was  delighted  to  meet  artist  George  Wolfe 
Plank,  with  whom  she  had  corresponded,  and  who  later  de- 
signed two  bookplates  for  her.  Although  they  never  met  again, 
she  and  Plank  exchanged  long  and  affectionate  letters  for  more 
than  thirty  years. 

On  her  return  home,  thrilled  by  all  the  beauty  she  had  seen, 
Olive  Percival  resolved  to  do  something  on  behalf  of  art  in 
Southern  California.  Since  1903  she  had  been  a  member  of  the 
Friday  Morning  Club,  a  cultural  center  for  women  of  the  Los 
Angeles  area,  and  she  had  addressed  the  club  on  two  of  her 
favorite  subjects:  New  England  antiques  and  Oriental  porce- 
lain. At  her  suggestion  the  club  formed  an  art  committee  in 
1910.  As  the  initial  chairman  ("working  hard  and  spending  too 
much  of  my  own  money"),  she  organized  two  critically 
acclaimed  exhibits.  The  first,  held  in  1910,  was  an  American 
etching  show.  A  number  of  the  works,  including  three  by 
Whistler,  came  from  her  own  collection.  In  1911  she  arranged 
a  bookplate  exhibit,  the  first  ever  held  in  Southern  California. 
"The  village  still  regards  Bookplates  as  a  'fad,'  if  at  all,"  she 
lamented.  "To  my  mind  no  more  of  a  'fad'  than  a  visiting  card 


or  proper  letter-paper."     She  used  a  variety  of  bookplates  for 

the  volumes  in  her  own  library;  and  also  collected  bookplates, 

wrote  about  them,  and  designed  them.  Although  an  amateur 

artist,  she  received  an  award  of  merit  in  1926  for  her  children's 

bookplate  designs. 

In  addition  to  visiting  museums  and  galleries  on  her  trip 

east  in  1910,  Miss  Percival  attended  a  woman  suffrage  meeting 

in  Madison  Square  Garden.  "Think  of  paying  $2.00  a  seat  to 

have  someone  talk  equal  suffrage  to  you!"  she  wrote  indignant- 

ly.  "It's  free  in  California."     In  1911  California  became  the 

sixth  state  to  give  women  the  vote.  Miss  Percival  was  jubilant. 

As  she  had  told  the  Los  Angeles  Times  in  1910,  "Women  whose 

place  in  life  forces  them  to  think  for  themselves  and  to  work 

for  themselves  deserve  to  take  their  own  part  in  making  the 

best  possible  conditions  of  living  under  any  government  of 

which  they  are  subjects." 

In  1912,  when  she  voted  in  her  first  presidential  primary, 

the  polling  place  was  a  millinery  shop.  "It  seemed  a  comedy 

stage  setting,"  she  noted  in  her  diary;  "quite  lacking  in  the 

majesty  of  The  Law  as  one  imagines  it;  certainly  free  from  the 

objectionable  features  as  set  forth  by  the  men  antis,  who  did 

not  wish  Woman  to  lose  her  'bloom,'  her  'purity,'  her  interest 

in  the  home!"  Mockingly  she  added,  "I  came  away  from  the 

polls  .  .  .  with  my  interest  in  religion,  my  home  and  mankind 

undiminished.  I'm  still  a  perfect  lady!" 

Although  equal  suffrage  had  prevailed,  few  women  were 

sanguine  about  achieving  equal  pay  for  equal  work.  "I  am  of 

the  pioneer  generation  of  office -women,"  Miss  Percival  wrote 

in  1908,  "and  cannot  reasonably  hope  for  the  salary  a  man 

would  receive  for  the  same  work.  (A  man,  too,  would  be  given 


some  kind  of  title!)  If  a  woman  points  out  these  injustices,  even 
in  the  mildest  lowest-pitched  voice,  she  is  immediately  called 
a  crank,  a  bore,  a  strong-minded  old  maid!" 

It  is  quite  possible  that  men  considered  Miss  Percival  "a 
strong-minded  old  maid,"  but  surely  they  never  found  her  a 
bore.  She  had  a  lively  mind  and  spirited  opinions.  Her  friend 
Hildegarde  Planner  observed  that  she  also  had  "a  capricious, 
rebellious  and  daring  streak  in  her  soul."  Miss  Percival  thought 
of  herself  as  plain  and  deplored  her  unclassic  profile,  but  she 
had  a  pleasant  face  and  expressive  brown  eyes.  Slim  as  a  young 
woman,  in  later  years  she  was  -  as  Hildegarde  Planner  again 
observed  -  "shapely,  well-proportioned,  and  firm  in  her  stays. 

Three  suitors  were  vying  for  Olive  Percival's  hand  in  1907, 
and  she  already  had  rejected  an  elderly  Pasadena  millionaire. 
Her  three  beaux  were  Ralph  Mocine,  whom  she  admired  as  an 
artist;  Antony  Anderson,  art  critic  for  the  Los  Angeles  Times; 
and  Anderson's  friend  Clarence  McGehee,  a  young  Times 
reporter  with  an  interest  in  Oriental  art.  Miss  Percival  yearned 
for  children,  but  not  for  marriage  with  anyone  who  had  yet 
proposed  it.  "How  perverse  is  fate!  Men  I  admire  never  admire 
me  -  not  until  they  have  married  and  gotten  a  new  perspective 
at  least,"  she  confided  in  her  diary,  and  then  added,  "Women 
like  me,  and  children  -  and  no  dog  or  cat  ever  misunderstood 
me!"  In  1911  she  stoutly  declared,  "I  no  longer  interest  myelf 
in  new  friendships  with  men;  they  absorb  too  much  time. 
Anyway,  only  married  men  are  acceptably  well-bred  or  inter- 
csting."  Despite  her  words,  she  continued  to  have  men 
friends  -  and  she  turned  down  at  least  two  more  proposals. 

In  191 1  Helen  Percival  also  was  being  courted.  Olive  wrote 
in  her  diary:  "I  think  I'm  wholly  reconciled  to  the  breaking  up 


of  our  little  home  -  that  all  is  going  to  be  right  for  Mother; 
and  for  me  (when  out  of  debt)  and  then,  at  the  thought  of 
having  my  Mother  living  with  someone  else,  and  the  thought 
that  I  have  never  'had'  any  real  'people'  who  were  genuinely 
concerned  about  me,  I  am  again  desolated!"  In  an  outburst 
of  anger  and  resentment  she  declared,  "I've  always  been  far 
more  of  a  real  Mother  to  her  than  she  has  been  to  me  -  and 

she  has  treated  [me]  with  the  consideration  due  a  troublesome 

beggar  -  no  more!" 

Within  a  few  months  Mrs.  Percival  abandoned  the  notion 

of  remarrying.  In  1914,  however,  she  abruptly  left  for  the  East, 

to  marry  a  man  whom  she  barely  knew.  She  did  indeed  marry, 

but  within  a  fortnight  asked  to  return  to  the  Down-hyl  Claim. 

"Of  course  I  replied  'Yes'  immediately,"  said  Olive.  "Mother 

undoubtedly  is  unbalanced,  but  I  am  very  glad  she  is  coming 

home,  for  no  one  else  in  the  world  can  be  expected  to  put  up 

with  her  dreadful  outbursts  but  her  daughter,  who  has  accus- 

tomed  herself  to  them.  Poor,  poor  Mother!"      The  diaries 

make  no  further  mention  of  the  escapade.  The  two  women 

grew  increasingly  close  to  each  other,  sharing  a  love  of  books 

and  flowers. 

In  a  downhearted  mood  Miss  Percival  once  wrote,  "It  has 

never  seemed  fair  to  me  that  all  the  family-burdens  should  have 

been  mine  and  so  I  sometimes  exult  in  cheating  'Fate'  (or 

whatever  it  be)  by  squandering  money  on  myself,  in  the  way  of 

Books  and  Japanese  Art!  I  daresay  it  is  much  the  same  sort  of 


sin  as  getting  drunk,  in  order  to  forget."" 

By  1910  her  library  held  more  than  three  thousand  volumes. 
Books,  to  her,  were  a  comfort  and  delight;  collecting  them  was 
a  passion.  When  she  spoke  of  wickedness  and  temptation,  she 


meant  yielding  once  more  to  the  lures  of  an  old-book  catalog. 
"I  am  performing  many  penances  these  days,  at  the  end  of  a 
year  in  which  I  have  been  too  extravagant  in  the  matter  of 
books,"  she  confessed  in  1905  after  making  purchases  that 
totaled  $339.66.  "I  must  sell  many  of  my  Chinese  stories  to  The 
Times,  whose  niggardly  wage  is  20c  per  inch;  I  must  give  up 
many  magazines,  nearly  all  plays,  Friday  Morning  Club  lunch- 
eons -  and  I  must  not  buy  any  candy  or  flowers,  nor  more  than 

one  book  a  month!  Until  I  am  out  of  debt,  I  must  cultivate 

Economy  each  day,  each  hour." 

Despite  her  stern  resolve,  she  found  it  difficult  to  limit  her 

book  buying.  In  self-defense  she  wrote  in  1906,  "My  library  is 

a  great,  great  solace  after  the  continual  grind  of  these  office 

years  and,  although  I  buy  much,  I  really  am  a  careful  buyer. 

Life  is  so  soon  done,  why  should  I  not  snatch  this  rose-of- 


pleasure  as  I  plod  along,  even  though  I  ought  not?" 

She  was  indeed  a  careful  buyer,  often  ordering  books  that 
cost  only  a  dollar  or  two.  She  spent  twenty  dollars,  however, 
for  a  signed  copy  of  Oscar  Wilde's  The  Portrait  of  Dorian  Grey, 
and  spent  twice  that  much  for  a  1495  edition  of  De  Rerum 
Natura,  the  great  philosophic  poem  of  Lucretius.  One  early 
purchase  was  Sir  Richard  Burton's  translation  of  the  Arabian 
Nights,  an  unbowdlerized  edition  costing  seventy-five  dollars. 
"The  literal  translation  is  a  bit  too  much  for  me,"  Miss  Percival 
admitted,  "although  I  do  believe  I  have  the  perspective  of  the 
student.  Fancy,  one  of  my  nice  men  friends  seeing  such  books 
on  a  spinster's  drawing-room  table!  I  have  prudently,  or 
prudishly,  put  them  out  of  sight.  But  oh!  for  the  easy  grace  of 
those  old  Oriental  story-tellers,  however  coarse  and  non-intel- 


Asked  in  1907  what  ten  books  she  would  take  to  a  desert 
island,  Miss  Percival  put  the  Bible,  Shakespeare,  and  the 
Arabian  Nights  at  the  top  of  her  list,  followed  by  the  diaries  of 
Pepys  and  of  Judge  Samuel  Sewall,  who  knew  one  of  her 
Percival  ancestors.  She  also  chose  David  Copperfield,  The 
Spectator,  Reliques  of  Ancient  English  Poetry,  and  Marias  the 
Epicurian  (preferably  bound  in  vellum).  With  a  flash  of  wit  and 
practicality  she  ended  her  list  with  a  book  by  Hannah  Glasse: 
The  Art  of  Cookery,  Made  Plain  and  Easy. 

Miss  Percival  collected  plays,  poetry,  history,  biography, 
travel  books,  art  books,  garden  books,  children's  books.  It  was 
the  children's  books  she  thought  of  when  floodwaters  threat- 
ened the  Down-hyl  Claim  in  1914.  Warned  to  evacuate,  she 
filled  two  baskets  to  take  with  her  if  forced  to  leave.  In  one 
she  packed  her  cherished  Kate  Greenaway  books.  In  the  other 
she  placed  a  mother  cat  and  five  kittens.  (It  is  typical  of  Miss 
Percival  that  she  did  not  flee  the  Arroyo  but  stayed  on,  bailing 

One  of  her  favorite  English  booksellers  was  William  H. 
Downing  of  Birmingham.  (She  admired,  among  other  things, 
the  courtly  style  of  his  business  letters.)  An  early  Los  Angeles 
favorite  was  C.  C.  Parker,  who  in  1895  opened  a  pleasant  little 
shop  on  Broadway,  not  far  from  where  she  worked.  "Probably 
half  of  my  books  came  from  his  book-shelves,"  she  wrote  in 
1935,  when  Parker  went  out  of  business.  "It  is  too  tragic  that 
a  real  book  man  cannot  succeed  in  this  huge  town  -  But  all 
the  department  stores  have  Book  Sections  now.  Poor  Mr. 
Parker!  "^^ 

One  bookman  who  did  succeed  was  Ernest  Dawson;  the 
business  he  launched  in  1905  still  flourishes  today.  Miss  Per- 


cival  enjoyed  the  atmosphere  of  the  shop.  Wearied  by  office 
chores,  she  went  to  Dawson's  to  rest  her  mind.  Upset  by  the 
extraction  of  two  teeth,  she  went  to  Dawson's  to  quiet  her 
nerves.  And  when  Dawson's  sponsored  a  tea,  she  went  to  chat 
with  other  bibliophiles.  "Someone  kept  bringing  up  gentlemen 
and  introducing  them,"  she  reported  happily  on  one  occasion, 
"so  I  hardly  got  my  tea  drunk.  "^^ 

On  a  visit  to  Dawson's  in  1932  she  browsed  through  a 
collection  of  bookplates  assembled  by  her  old  friend  Irving 
Way,  who  had  died  a  few  months  earlier.  Noted  typographer 
and  illustrator  Will  Bradley  described  Way  as  someone  who 
would  trade  his  last  shirt  for  a  first  edition.  Miss  Percival 
considered  him  her  most  valued  literary  friend.  "He  had  such 
fine  taste  in  books  and  in  the  arts  of  the  book!"  she  recalled. 
"For  years,  he  called  on  me  at  the  office  almost  every  morning 
-  always  with  some  interesting  bit  of  book  news  or  a  glamorous 
memory  of  the  days  when  he  was  a  publisher,  going  frequently 


to  London  to  interview  the  literary  great  of  the  1890s." 

The  Chicago  firm  of  Way  &  Williams  was  the  only 
American  publisher  to  issue  a  book  from  the  Kelmscott  Press. 
The  little  book,  on  handmade  paper  and  bound  in  vellum,  was 
Rossetti's  Hand  and  Soul.  Way  secured  the  rights  after  calling 
on  William  Morris  at  the  Kelmscott  Press  in  1895.  "A  very 
pleasant  experience,"  he  said,  "which  gave  our  firm  an  auspi- 


cious  start." 

In  1904  Way  moved  to  Los  Angeles,  where  he  sold  sub- 
scription books  and  acted  as  a  book  scout  for  collectors.  It  was 
a  precarious  means  of  earning  a  living,  and  occasionally  he 
borrowed  a  little  money  from  Miss  Percival,  or  sold  her  a 
special  volume  from  his  personal  library.  "I  am  buying  more 


than  I  ought,"  she  wrote  in  1915,  "but  it  is  the  way  to  help. 

And  I  know  his  needs  and  his  books! ' 

One  of  the  books  was  a  copy  of  SentimentalJoumey  bound 
by  T  J.  Cobden-Sanderson.  "I  did  not  care  for  the  book  (I've 
an  old,  autographed  Sterne),"  she  said;  "but  how  I've  always 
coveted  this  binding!  It  is  full  crushed  levant,  green,  with 
all-over  design  of  tiny  golden  hearts.  But  when  poor  Mr.  Way 
said  he  would  be  glad  if  I  would  take  it  for  $20.00,  I  was  only 
too  happy  to  avail  of  the  opportunity,  although  it  means  doing 
without  clothes,  which  I  much  need.  Cobden-Sanderson  does 
very  little  work  now  and  I  knew  I'd  never  again  get  such  a 
chance."  Years  later  she  proudly  lent  her  copy  oi  Sentimental 
Journey  to  her  friend  Alice  Millard  for  a  splendid  exhibit  of 
Cobden-Sanderson  bindings. 

Miss  Percival  met  bibliophiles  George  and  Alice  Millard  in 
1915,  shortly  after  they  arrived  in  California.  George  Millard 
had  headed  the  rare  book  department  of  McClurg's  Bookstore 
in  Chicago,  and  he  continued  to  sell  rare  books  (advertising 
"libraries  formed  or  enriched")  from  his  home  on  Huntington 
Drive  in  South  Pasadena.  The  Millards  quickly  endeared 
themselves  to  Miss  Percival  by  describing  her  as  the  best-read 
woman  they  had  met  in  California.  She  was  a  frequent  guest 
of  the  Millards,  taking  pleasure  in  the  opportunity  to  hold  a 
Caxton,  a  Kelmscott  Chaucer,  a  teakettle  once  used  by  Charles 
Dickens.  As  she  wrote  after  her  memorable  first  visit  to  the 
house,  "I  saw  many,  many  precious  wonders,  while  the  Millards 
explained  things  in  their  sweet,  cool,  well-bred  way." 

George  Millard  died  in  1918,  and  Alice  carried  on  the 
business  -  first  in  South  Pasadena  and  then  in  the  famous 
Pasadena  house  designed  for  her  by  Frank  Lloyd  Wright.  The 


two  women  continued  their  friendship,  with  Alice  Millard 
sometimes  consulting  Miss  Percival  as  to  the  wording  of  an 
advertisement  or  announcement. 

In  1920  the  English  bibliophile  Halliday  Sparling,  who  had 
been  secretary  of  the  Kelmscott  Press,  called  on  Miss  Percival 
at  the  Down-hyl  Claim.  He  greatly  admired  her  library,  remark- 
ing that  in  no  other  American  household  had  he  seen  so  many 
books.  In  the  last  ten  years  her  collection  had  doubled,  going 
from  three  thousand  to  six  thousand  volumes.  She  and  the 
Sparlings  became  warm  friends  during  the  couple's  two-year 
stay  in  California.  It  was  partly  at  her  urging  ("I  talked  him  into 
fervor,  enthusiasm,"  she  said)  that  Sparling  wrote  The  Kelm- 
scott Press  and  William  Morris  Master-Craftsman.  The  book 
appeared  in  1924,  with  a  graceful  note  of  thanks  in  the  preface 
"to  Miss  Olive  Percival,  of  Los  Angeles,  for  an  unwearied  and 
inspiring  discussion  of  doubts  and  difficulties." 

By  1924  the  books  at  the  Down-hyl  Claim  stood  two  deep 
on  the  shelves  and  even  replaced  the  dishes  in  the  china  pantry. 
Although  Miss  Percival  acquired  some  of  the  books  through 
English  catalogs,  she  bought  many  others  in  downtown  Los 
Angeles.  When  she  began  working  for  the  Home  Insurance 
Company  in  1895,  the  office  was  at  203  South  Broadway,  across 
the  street  from  Ward's  bookstore  and  a  few  blocks  from 
Parker's.  In  1904  Home  Insurance  moved  to  4th  and  Spring, 
and  the  following  year  Ernest  Dawson's  Antique  Book  Shop 
opened  nearby.  Miss  Percival  found  it  an  almost  irresistible 
temptation  to  visit  one  of  the  bookstores  on  her  lunch  hour  or 
after  a  Saturday  half-day  of  work. 

Other  tempting  shops  in  the  area  carried  Chinese  and 
Japanese  antiques  and  art  goods:  H.  B.  Kendrick  &  Co., 


Nathan  Bentz  &  Co.,  Kakiuchi  Brothers,  Nishikawa  Brothers, 
Suyetomi's,  Suzuki's,  The  Yamato.  Miss  Percival  knew  them 
all,  as  well  as  the  galleries  of  the  remarkable  Grace  Nicholson, 
who  erected  in  downtown  Pasadena  a  building  inspired  by  the 
Palace  of  Fine  Arts  in  Peking.  Of  the  career  women  among 
her  friends,  she  thought  Alice  Millard  and  Grace  Nicholson 
the  most  enviable  because  their  work  was  congenial,  free  from 
monotony,  and  carried  on  in  beautiful  surroundings. 

Miss  Percival  was  a  discerning  buyer.  In  1907  she  happily 
repeated  H.  B.  Kendrick's  comment  "that  he  never  had  been 
able  to  fool  me  about  any  Oriental  ware!  I  am  quite  as  delighted 
as  if  someone  had  said  I  were  beautiful!"  The  new  Los 
Angeles  Museum  of  History,  Science  and  Art  also  recognized 
her  expertise  and  consulted  her  in  1913  about  some  Chinese 
porcelains  that  had  been  offered  for  a  loan  exhibit.  She  would 
not  lend  any  of  her  own  pieces,  fearful  that  they  would  be  badly 
arranged  and  displayed.  "There  is  no  room  planned  for  Orien- 
tal Porcelains,"  she  wrote  indignantly,  "and  the  curator  or 
manageress  who  mixes  them  up,  in  tapestry-lined  cases,  with 
General  pottery  and  porcelain  ought  to  be  imprisoned  in  the 
crazy-quilt  room  at  a  county  fair,  with  brass  bands  (off  the  key), 
megaphones,  pianolas  and  talking-machines,  a  glare  of  elec- 


tricity,  and  no  ventilation! 

When  Miss  Percival  began  collecting  Japanese  prints, 
around  1900,  she  had  the  advantage  of  looking  at  -  and  perhaps 
purchasing  -  some  that  Arthur  Dow  sent  to  Los  Angeles 
painter  Regina  O'Kanc  for  her  study  and  disposition.  By  1908 
Miss  Percival's  collection  was  large  enough  that  she  could  lend 
seventy-five  works,  including  several  by  Hiroshigc  and 
Hokusai,  to  the  Ruskin  Art  Club  of  Los  Angeles.  In  addition 


to  woodblock  prints,  she  collected  Chinese  and  Japanese 
porcelain  and  Japanese  scroll  paintings,  lacquer,  bronzes, 
sword  guards,  and  stencils.  "Consolations-for-Drudgery,"  she 
called  them;  "precious  and  very  comforting  Things." 

At  her  famous  garden  teas  Miss  Percival  enjoyed  bringing 
a  hint  of  the  Orient  to  the  Arroyo.  Then  festive  cloth  koi 
floated  above  the  garden,  Japanese  poems  fluttered  from 
windbells,  and  colored  lanterns  hung  like  blossoms  in  the  trees. 
"Japan  has  beautified  everyday,  commonplace  existence;  has 
demonstrated  that  Happiness  and  a  perfect,  a  refined  Beauty 
of  life  may  be  attained  by  the  poor,"  she  wrote  appreciatively. 
"I  am  grateful  for  this,  to  me  a  perception  most  important." 

Admiration  for  the  Japanese  and  their  culture  led  her  to 
protest  several  anti-Japanese  measures.  In  1907,  when  San 
Francisco  fought  to  send  Japanese  children  to  a  segregated 
school,  she  denounced  the  board  of  education  as  "seven-dif- 
ferent-kinds-of-an-ass."  Los  Angeles  Evening  News  editor 
Samuel  T  Clover  shared  her  views.  In  a  gesture  of  appreciation 
she  gave  him  an  antique  sword  guard  chosen  for  her  years  ago 
in  Japan  by  Ernest  Fenollosa  and  by  her  friend  Mary  F.  Denton, 
a  teacher  at  Kyoto's  Doshisha  University. 

In  1913,  when  California  passed  a  land  law  discriminating 
against  the  Japanese,  Miss  Percival  wrote  a  passionate  letter 
of  protest,  which  was  printed  in  the  Los  Angeles  Times  and 
reprinted  by  the  Japan  Society  of  New  York.  To  help  defeat  an 
alien  land  law  initiative  on  the  California  ballot  in  1920,  she 
hired  small  boys  to  distribute  several  thousand  pro-Japanese 
brochures.  The  measure  passed  by  an  overwhelming  majority, 
but  she  continued  to  champion  Japanese  rights. 

Not  all  of  Miss  Percival's  friends  shared  her  sympathies. 


"My  ultra  liberal,  democratic  views  on  the  Oriental  question 
have  so  often  brought  me  the  accusation  of  being  'un- 
American,'  "  she  wrote  in  1908,  "that  I  am  going  to  join  The 


Daughters  of  the  American  Revolution."  She  did  join  the 
DAR,  claiming  descent  from  patriot  Levi  Robinson.  In  addition 
she  joined  the  American  Society  of  Colonial  Families  (as  a 
descendant  of  William  Tracy  of  the  Virginia  Colony)  and  joined 
the  Society  of  Mayflower  Descendants  (as  tenth  in  line  from 
Edward  Fuller,  who  signed  the  Mayflower  Compact).  Her 
interest  in  these  groups  did  not  preclude  her  from  belonging 
also  to  the  Japan  Society  of  London,  the  Japan  Society  of  New 
York,  the  local  Japan-American  Club,  and  the  Japanese- 
American  Woman's  Club. 

Miss  Percival  never  visited  Japan  although  she  had  longed 
to  go  there  since  1893,  when  she  read  her  first  book  about  the 
country.  She  once  toyed  with  the  idea  of  teaching  in  Japan  - 
an  idea  encouraged  by  her  Kyoto  friend,  Mary  Denton,  who 
thought  Miss  Percival  was  wasting  her  life  as  an  insurance  clerk. 
Nothing  came  of  the  idea,  however,  and  she  had  to  find  comfort 
in  the  rueful  pledge,  "I  vow  I  shall  see  Japan  and  China  and 


The  Taj,  if  I  have  to  wait  until  I  am  a  ghost!" 

In  1915,  after  laboring  for  twenty-four  years  as  an  insurance 
clerk,  Miss  Percival  declared:  "It  has  been  a  hard,  an  unlovely 
disciplining  -  the  associations  most  uncongenial.  ...  I  am  not 
a  merchant  but  a  farmer  and  I  loathe,  with  my  entire  soul,  mind 
and  heart,  the  memory  of  my  office  years  -  which  have  looked 
so  easy  or  successful  to  other  girls  and  women.""  Despite  her 
unhappiness,  she  continued  to  work  until  1929,  resigning  only 
after  the  title  of  chief  clerk  -  hers  since  1916  -  was  taken  from 
her  and  given  to  a  much  younger  woman. 


"Apparently  I  am  not  needed  and  certainly  not  wanted," 
she  wrote  in  her  brief  letter  of  resignation.  "I  understand  that 
the  Company  does  not  pension  women  but ...  I  shall  not  mind 
being  a  precedent,  especially  as  I  shall  be  entirely  without 
income.  In  July  I  shall  be  sixty-one,  one  of  the  Pueblo's 
Pioneers  and  I've  been  with  The  Home  about  33  1/2  years." 
The  board  of  trustees  voted  to  place  her  on  the  company's 
reserve  force  and  to  continue  the  salary  of  $150  a  month  that 

she  had  earned  since  1906.  "O,  I  am  so  surprised,  so  grate- 

ful!"     she  wrote  in  valediction. 

On  March  29,  1929,  Miss  Percival  left  the  office  for  the 

last  time.  "I  merely  said,  'Good-night,  Girls,'  and  made  a  quiet 

exit,"  she  wrote  in  her  diary.  "No  farewellings,  no  explanations, 

were  due  from  me." 


Four  years  before  she  retired.  Miss  Percival  lamented,  "My 
heart  breaks  every  morning,  as  I  hurry  away  from  Mother-dear 
and  the  blooming  Garden  -  and  the  Cats,  who  try  to  lure  me 
to  play  along  the  paths."  ^  Helen  Mason  Percival  was  then 
seventy-eight  years  old  and  in  failing  health.  "Poor,  little 
withering-flower  Lady,"     said  Olive  compassionately. 

Helen  Percival  died  in  February  1928,  leaving  her  daughter 
in  an  anguish  of  loneliness.  She  found  it  hard  to  accept  her 
mother's  death  and  did  not  refer  to  it  in  her  diaries  until  August 
1929.  Then  the  garden  that  both  women  had  loved  brought  a 
kind  of  healing.  "When  Mother-dear  was  on  her  death-bed," 
Olive  Percival  wrote,  "she  asked  me  not  to  forget  the  oleander 
she  had  just  started  Today,  it  has  begun  to  bloom  -  a  lovely  pink! " 


Looking  at  her  arroyo  acre  in  1899,  Miss  Percivai  had  seen 
only  chaparral  and  a  few  live  oaks  and  sycamores;  but  she 
envisioned  fruit  trees,  roses,  herbs,  old-fashioned  perennials, 
a  native  plant  garden,  a  little  Japanese  garden.  She  never 
doubted  that  she  would  have  them  all.  As  she  wrote  in  an  article 
for  The  House  Beautiful,  "Everything,  even  a  dry  stick,  will 
grow  for  certain  garden-lovers,  born  at  the  right  time  of  the 
moon  and  unafraid  of  the  haughtiest  manicures  that  be!"  In 
1918  she  walked  about  the  Down-hyl  Claim  and  proudly 
counted  253  varieties  of  flowering  plants,  shrubs,  and  vines,  in 
addition  to  her  beloved  roses. 

One  of  her  unpublished  manuscripts,  "The  Children's 
Garden  Book,"  suggests  her  garden  philosophy.  "I  must  tell 
you  one  thing  that  a  garden  is  not,"  she  sternly  advised,  "and 
that  is  a  mere  collection  of  rare  and  expensive  plants,  all 
correctly  labeled  perhaps  and  all  kept  alive  with  much  difficul- 
ty, like  the  heart-broken,  captive  animals  in  the  zoo.  A  gar- 
dener's garden  is  not  a  real  garden  nor  a  happy  place  at  all.  It 
looks  all  industry,  drudgery!  Of  course  there  are  no  weeds,  but 
there  are  no  great  dreams  and  seldom  any  mysteries. 

Dozens  of  pathways  at  the  Down-hyl  Claim  led  to  half-hid- 
den little  gardens,  each  as  satisfying  to  an  artist's  eye  as  to  a 
flower  lover's.  On  one  spring  day  Miss  Percivai  wistfully 
observed,  "The  white  irises,  daffodils,  hyacinths,  the  Kate 
Greenaway  effects  of  clumps  of  primroses  bordering  the  paths, 
made  me  feel  that  the  life  of  a  flower  painter  would  be  the 


perfect  one!"     Instead  of  paintbrush  and  palette  she  used  her 

camera.  She  liked  to  print  her  photographs  on  blueprint  paper, 

achieving  the  color  she  admired  so  much  in  Oriental  porcelain. 

Many  snapshots  of  her  various  gardens  show  a   tiny 


Japanesque  area  with  a  hint  of  miniature  woods  and  mountains. 
Few  would  guess  that  the  lichened  rocks  and  dwarf  junipers 
hid  some  ugly  water  pipes  leading  into  the  kitchen.  Arthur 
Dow,  who  visited  the  Down-hyl  Claim  in  1911,  told  his  hostess 
admiringly,  "Your  Japanese  Garden  shows  what  anyone  with 
taste  and  gumption  can  do  with  an  impossibility. 

Miss  Percival's  sundial  proclaimed,  "Qui  laborat  orat,"  a 
motto  paraphrased  in  one  of  her  diary  entries.  "I  worked  hard 
on  this  the  Lord's  Day,"  she  said,  "and,  in  a  truly  worshipping 
mood,  repotted  50  Primroses;  Oxalis;  little  Roses;  Jerusalem 
Cherry-trees;  etc.,  etc.  -  besides  setting  out  many  Ins. 
Primroses  (especially  white  ones)  were  among  her  favorite 
flowers.  She  loved  old-fashioned  roses  (Marechal  Niel,  La 
France,  Lamarque,  Jacqueminot),  and  she  was  fond  of  other 
sweet-smelling  plants  like  gardenias,  jasmine,  daphne,  honey- 
suckle, and  amaryllis. 

She  also  admired  Billbergia,  which  she  whimsically  likened 
to  a  milliner's  flower.  It  was  a  natural  association  for  Miss 
Percival,  who  delighted  in  custom-made  hats  adorned  with  silk 
and  velvet  flowers:  violets,  perhaps,  or  roses,  poppies,  daisies, 
forget-me-nots.  Her  fondness  for  hats  led  to  her  collecting 
them,  and  she  accumulated  more  than  a  hundred.  The  oldest, 
found  in  a  Yankee  cousin's  attic,  dated  back  to  1840.  Some- 
times Miss  Percival  amused  her  guests  by  arranging  the  hats, 
like  flowers,  on  tall  green  sticks  along  the  garden  paths. 

Miss  Percival  generously  shared  plants  and  cuttings  from 
her  garden;  and  she  took  pleasure  in  making  up  bouquets  for 
friends,  for  the  neighborhood  children,  and  even  for  people 
whom  she  did  not  know  at  all.  She  once  asked  her  mother  to 
take  small  bunches  of  lilies  of  the  valley  to  the  Broadway 


Department  Store  and  give  them  "to  the  homeliest  girls  she 
saw,  the  oldest  and  plainest!"  During  World  War  I,  Miss 
Percival  had  the  idea  of  shipping  apricot,  peach,  and  prune  stones 
to  France  to  help  replant  orchards  cut  down  by  the  retreating 
Germans.  "I  would  like  to  feel  there  were  trees  over  there  of  'my' 
planting,"  she  wrote,  "for  I  am  a  tree-worshipper!" 

She  enjoyed  gathering  flowers  and  arranging  them  in  such 
varied  containers  as  a  Seifu  sake  bottle,  a  Chinese  crackle  bowl, 
an  old  Chelsea  cup.  "Flowers  do  take  a  lot  of  time,"  she 


admitted,  "but  rooms  seem  too  dead  without  them."  ^  In  1933, 
when  she  entertained  English  author  and  garden  lover  Vita 
Sackville-West,  Miss  Percival  noted  with  satisfaction:  "V.  Sack- 
ville-West  much  admired  my  flower-arrangements  (particularly, 
the  two  trays  of  wee  vases  in  which  were  various  flowers  of 
Spring:  camellias,  pansies,  scillas,  one  daffodil,  Mexican  daisies, 
ranunculus,  one  big  blue-and-white  cineraria,  etc.!)  and  the  big 
ivory-white  platter  of  huge  pomelos,  with  green  loquat  leaves. 
Gave  her  two  of  the  pomelos  and  some  calavo  'toast'  for  her 
train  journey."  She  gave  her  also  a  carton  of  Billbergia  corms 
for  the  wonderful  gardens  at  Sissinghurst  Castle. 

"We  have  no  paved  streets,  no  gas,  no  electricity,  no 
water-bills,  no  postmen,"  '  Miss  Percival  wrote  of  the  Down- 
hyl  Claim  in  1914.  She  never  did  have  electricity  or  a  furnace, 
but  until  the  end  of  her  life  made  do  with  oil  lamps  and 
candles  and  with  fireplaces  for  heat.  As  poet  Hildegarde 
Flanner  wrote  in  a  charming  and  affectionate  memoir,  "The 
primitive  and  the  cultivated  were  mingled  at  Down-hyl  Claim 
within-doors,  and  in  the  garden  the  white  primroses  were 
encouraged,  with  a  kind  of  reverence,  to  give  the  air  of 
delicacy  that  only  a  lady  could  achieve,  no  matter  if  the 


temperature  in  the  house  called  for  red  woolen  underwear  fit 

for  a  lumberjack." 

The  two  Percival  ladies  used  to  sit  by  the  fireplace  in  the 
evening,  Olive  busy  with  pencil,  needle,  or  scissors  while  her 
mother  read  aloud.  "It  is  impossible  for  me  to  sit  in  my  chair 
and  fold  my  hands  idly,  like-a-lady,"  Miss  Percival  declared. 
Instead,  she  took  pleasure  in  designing  bookplates,  mono- 
grams, embroideries,  and  quilts;  in  sewing  doll  clothes  and  in 
carving  wooden  toys.  She  also  liked  painting  decorations  on 
the  large  wooden  cheese  boxes  in  which  she  stored  her  old  hats 
and  bonnets.  "I  know  I'm  not  an  artist,"  she  once  admitted. 
"I've  never  had  any  training!  But  this  I  know  (and  am  grateful 
to  God  for  it)  I  have  millions  of  good  Ideas  and  a  little  talent 
for  applied  design  and  so  intense  a  love  of  Pure  Beauty  that  I 


see  phases  of  it  everywhere  and  am  as  glad  as  a  child!" 

In  1912  Miss  Percival  found  an  enchanting  new  activity. 
Inspired  by  a  letter  about  antique  paper  dolls,  she  began 
making  paper  dolls  herself.  "I  don't  in  the  least  care  how  silly 
it  looks!"  she  said.  "Have  made  1840,  1876  and  1912  ladies  and 
hats."  The  handwork  was  a  pleasant  diversion  at  a  time  when 
she  confessed  herself,  "Horridly  melancholy,  for  no  real  reason 
-  only  the  full  realization  of  the  accumulated  failures  of  the 
years  and  the  forlorn  over-worked  years  of  grind  and  genteel 
poverty  ahead.  Is  poverty  ever  genteel?  Nice  1840  word." 

The  letter  sparking  Miss  Percival's  interest  in  paper  dolls 
came  from  Wilbur  Macey  Stone,  who  shared  many  of  her 
collecting  interests  and  who  was  an  authority  on  childen's 
literature  and  toys.  She  sent  Stone  dozens  of  her  handmade 
paper  dolls,  which  he  later  described  in  an  essay  written  for  an 
exhibit  at  the  Newark  Museum  in  New  Jersey.  "The  most 


sophisticated  paper  dolls  I  own,"  he  said,  "are  the  product 
of  a  lover  of  things  old  and  curious,  in  Los  Angeles. .  . .  She 
made  these  for  sheer  enjoyment  of  her  inventive  faculty.  The 
dolls  vary  in  size  from  nine  inches  tall  to  one  inch  short. 
Really,  that  is  the  only  way  to  describe  them.  And  each,  large 
or  small,  is  perfected  to  the  least  detail  of  coiffure  and  lace 

Miss  Percival  made  at  least  five  hundred  paper  dolls. 
Among  them  are  infants,  children,  fat  ladies,  toe  dancers,  club 
presidents,  elocutionists,  debutantes,  and  cooks.  All  are 
dressed  in  turn-of-the-century  costumes  made  from  handsome 
scraps  of  paper.  The  ladies  have  extra  hats  and  purses  to  put 
on  and  take  off,  and  the  children  have  a  supply  of  animals  and 
toys.  One  small  boy  has  a  pet  mouse  and  several  pockets  in 
which  to  shelter  it. 

"They  raved  over  my  Paper  Dolls!"  Miss  Percival  reported 
after  showing  them  to  some  friends.  "Everyone  does  and  they 


are  unique,  delightful!"     So  are  the  "childish  (very  childish) 


book-marker  things"  that  she  was  making  at  the  same  time 
for  her  collection  of  children's  books.  The  enchanting  little 
paper  bookmarks,  some  of  them  only  an  inch  or  two  in  size, 
are  decorated  on  both  sides  with  cut-out  hearts,  trees,  flowers, 
ladies,  animals,  and  castles.  Almost  four  hundred  of  the  book- 
marks survive,  each  one  different  and  each  one  signed. 

Some  of  Miss  Percival's  most  charming  creations  are  the 
little  valentines  made  for  her  friends,  and  the  even  tinier 
valentines  made  for  favorites  in  her  collection  of  antique  dolls. 
Her  pleasure  in  dolls  had  been  delayed  about  half  a  century. 
"Began  earning  my  living  at  1 5,"  she  once  explained,  "and  there 
never  was  much  time  to  play,  even  when  I  was  10.  Mother  said 


I  was  'always  a  woman.'  I  can't  remember  a  time  without  its 

little  duties,  responsibilities Now  I  can  be  as  trivial  as  I  like 


-  as  I  dare. 

Although  never  taught  to  sew,  she  made  delightful  cos- 
tumes for  her  old  dolls  and  was  especially  proud  of  their  little 
hats  -  nearly  two  hundred  of  them.  "Is  all  this  Doll  Millinery 
Art?"  she  asked.  "Or  an  absurdity,  triviality?  Well,  I've  no  brain 
for  bridge  -  and  I  like  Dolls,  given  up  when  I  was  about  10  - 
which  was  too  soon." 

Perhaps  the  dolls  helped  satisfy  maternal  longings.  "How 


I  do  love  children  -  almost  OAiybody's!"  she  once  declared. 
A  motherly  friend  to  youngsters  in  the  neighborhood,  she 
patiently  answered  their  questions,  told  them  stories,  and 
taught  them  nursery  rhymes  and  the  names  of  flowers.  During 
the  Great  Depression  she  saw  to  it  that  the  poor  children 
next-door  were  properly  clothed  and  cared  for,  and  she  grandly 
paid  them  a  nickel  for  every  good  drawing  done  at  school. 

With  a  pension  of  $150  a  month  she  survived  the  Depres- 
sion without  undue  hardship.  Many  of  her  friends  and  neigh- 
bors were  less  fortunate.  She  helped  them  when  she  could,  and 
no  one  went  away  hungry  from  her  door.  For  more  than  a 
decade  she  gave  food  and  clothing  to  one  old  woman  who  lived 
in  a  tent  in  the  Arroyo.  "She  is  an  expensive  nuisance  to  me, 
poor  thing,"  Miss  Percival  wrote,  "but  it  seems  to  be  my  duty 
to  feed  her.  No  one  else  will." 

She  felt  a  special  pang  of  sympathy  for  the  once  well-to-do 
who  lost  their  money  in  the  Depression.  Among  them  was  her 
close  friend  Florence  Moore  Kreider,  who  had  to  find  work 
and  take  in  lodgers  when  her  husband's  business  failed.  In 
Dawson's  Book  Shop  Miss  Percival  chanced  upon  poignant 


evidence  of  her  friend's  altered  circumstances.  "Alas!"  she 
wrote  in  1933.  "One  of  the  books  I  got  at  Dawson's  (Henry 
Adams'  Mont-Saint-Michel)  came  from  the  shelves  of  Florence 
Moore  Kreider  and  has  her  autograph  on  fly-leaf!  And  this 
means  she  has  begun  to  sell  personal  things  to  keep  the  pot 


a-boihng!  Poor  Florence!  Poor  Sam!" 

While  others  were  selling  their  possessions,  Miss  Percival 
continued  to  add  to  hers.  "Have  bought  numerous  little  things, 
all  charming  and  quite  cheap,  thereby  helping  the  nice  new- 


poor,"  she  wrote  in  1932.  It  comforted  her  to  have  such  good 
reason  for  spending  money  instead  of  saving  it. 

By  1932  her  savings  account  had  dwindled  to  $500,  and  she 
had  to  practice  many  small  economies.  Sometimes  she  did  her 
own  laundry,  a  considerable  chore  in  a  house  with  no  hot 
running  water  and  no  electricity.  "Washed  48  colored  handker- 


chiefs  and  38  white  ones.  Saved  $4.30!!"  she  wrote  on  one 
occasion.  On  another  she  boasted,  "This  summer  and  spring 
I've  washed  my  own  underthings,  ironed  my  smocks  -  thereby 


saving  over  $30.00."  Most  of  the  latter  she  promptly  spent 
for  a  book  on  Chinese  snuff  bottles.  As  she  had  once  declared 
after  a  strenuous  round  of  window  washing,  "All  the  money  I 
save  in  this  horridly  hard  way  I'll  squander  on  Books!  Then  a 


perfectly  clear  conscience."  Another  time  she  wrote,  "My 
23rd  consecutive  day  of  very  hard  gardening  -  so  hard  that  I 
pity  myself,  especially  when  I  look  upon  my  hands!  So,  I  shall 
credit  O.P.  with  [$j3.00  a  day  and  spend  the  amount  (not  on 
household  bills,  taxes)  for  books  or  some  beautiful  antique." 

One  thing  she  dearly  wanted  was  an  antique  silver  teapot, 
a  symbol  of  the  elegance  and  propriety  she  so  admired.  She 
did  without  many  things  (even  foregoing  a  general  anesthetic 


when  she  had  a  tooth  pulled)  in  order  to  buy  a  Georgian  teapot 
for  her  sixty-fifth  birthday.  "I  felt  it  was  time,"  she  explained, 
"that  I  (who  have  had  much  to  do  with  the  establishing  of 
tea-drinking  -  when  others  were  serving  beer  or  sweet  punches 
or  cocoa  -)  had  a  suitable  tea-pot!  Now,  my  tea-things  are  all 


proper  and  right,  simple  but  very  good." 

The  following  year  she  again  made  sacrifices  in  order  to 
buy  a  few  more  pieces  of  silver.  "But  now,"  she  triumphantly 
announced,  "I  have  as  much  silver  as  if  I  had  had  a  big  wedding 
with  presents!  No  one  ever  gives  silver  to  a  woman  unless  she 
is  getting  married.  But  I've  bought  my  own  -  and  do  not  dare  tell 
anyone,  for  fear  they'll  point  a  finger  and  cry  'Spendthrift!'  ' 
Quickly  she  added  that  she  had  just  ironed  nine  smocks, 
thereby  saving  $4.05. 

For  years  Miss  Percival  dreamed  of  writing  a  best  seller  to 
bring  in  extra  money.  Her  manuscript  of  "The  Children's 
Garden  Book"  made  the  round  of  publishers  for  a  decade  and 
was  rejected  by  them  all.  The  manuscript  is  a  quaint  compen- 
dium -  what  she  called  a  potpourri  of  fiowery  facts  and  garden 
lore.  It  includes  her  own  charming  outline  drawings  and 
sketches  of  some  delightful  garden  plans.  They  have  such 
alluring  names  as  the  Kate  Greenaway  Garden,  the  Garden  of 
Aladdin,  the  Flying  Carpet,  and  the  Sliced  Cake  (a  garden  of 
pink  and  white).  People  had  praised  her  manuscript  and 
drawings,  she  told  Dr.  Norman  Bridge  in  1923,  "but  that  does 
not  apparently  get  book-covers." 

She  was  no  more  successful  with  her  next  manuscript,  a 
lengthy  memoir  in  free  verse  called  "Aunt  Abby  and  Others: 
Pictures  and  Impressions  of  the  American  Background,  1830- 
1930."  Miss  Percival  described  her  poem  as  a  spiritual  inven- 


tory.  It  pays  tribute  to  old-fashioned  ideals,  courtesies,  and 
elegance;  and  it  looks  upon  the  present  with  dismay.  Only  a 
few  things  in  modern  life  excite  her  admiration: 

Motor  Trucks,  Gas  Cooking  Ranges,  Steam  Shovels! 
The  Electric  Light  over  one's  pillow  book,  desk! 
City  Water  Supply,  Stainless  Steel  and  Tinned  Chicken. 
Are  they  not  the  time-saving  marvels,  mystifications?^ 

She  hoped  "Aunt  Abby"  would  win  a  $5,000  prize  offered 
by  the  Atlantic  Press  for  the  most  interesting  book  dealing  with 
the  American  scene.  "I  have  been  disciplined  through  the  years 
and  have  learned  how  to  swallow  the  failures,"  she  wrote  after 
mailing  off  her  manuscript.  "But  O,  how  much  I  want  one 


victory!"  The  editors,  however,  awarded  the  1931  prize  to 
Archer  Butler  Hulbert's  Forty-Niners. 

In  1933  Miss  Percival  began  work  on  Our  Old-fashioned 
Flowers,  a  little  book  that  was  published  after  her  death.  The 
opening  essay,  on  flower  name  history,  is  a  lyric  appreciation 
of  "the  old-time  flower  worthies."  It  repeats  themes  sounded 
in  "Aunt  Abby"  and  evokes  the  midwestern  town  where  Miss 
Percival  grew  up.  Much  of  the  book  is  devoted  to  lists  of 
old-fashioned  flowers  and  herbs,  their  names  given  both  in 
Latin  and  in  English.  She  delighted  in  the  evocative  English 
names:  ladies-in-the-mist,  touch-me-nots,  bachelor's  buttons, 
prince's  feathers;  and  she  took  special  note  of  that  splendid 
mouthful,  meet-her-in-the-entry-kiss-her-in-the-buttery  (better 
known  as  Johnny-jump-ups). 

In  November  1940,  with  the  last  thirty-five  dollars  from 
an  old  savings  account.  Miss  Percival  paid  half  her  taxes, 
bought  half  a  cord  of  firewood,  and  commissioned  Ward 


Ritchie  to  print  three  hundred  Christmas  cards  with  her  poem 

"Christmas  Tree  Market": 

I  do  not  want  a  blue  one  - 
Nor  rose  du  Barry,  oyster-white  nor  mauve! 
I  do  not  want  that  pink,  chartreuse  or  silver! 
But  one  from  snow-sweet,  quiet  grove. 

I  want  a  plain,  clean,  green  one, 

Agleam  with  berry  red,  not  tinsel,  gold  - 

O!  Christmas  brought  me  such  big  and  fragrant  green  trees, 

When  you  and  I  were  six  years  old!^ 

She  was  charmed  by  Ritchie  and  impressed  by  his  work  as 
poet,  printer,  and  book  designer.  "His  own  little  book  of  free 
verse  is  exquisite,  in  format  and  in  ideas!"  she  said.  "I  do  want 


Ward  Ritchie  to  do  a  little  book  of  vers  libre  for  me." 

Toward  the  end  of  her  life  Miss  Percival  said  of  her  poetry, 
"I  think  I  am  impelled  to  write  verse  (that  no  one  cares  about) 
because  I  am  so  lonely,  so  remote  from  friends  and  little 
gayeties,  with  so  very  little  to  look  forward  to  in  the  years  left 
me.  Am  not  unhappy  -  but  the  life  I  planned,  wanted,  was 
immensely  different." 

By  1940  she  was  in  poor  health,  seriously  overweight  and 
troubled  by  arthritis  and  high  blood  pressure.  Although  she 
complained  of  tiredness  (and  of  the  stepladder  seeming  heavier 
than  usual)  she  kept  up  with  her  garden  and  household  chores, 
even  chopping  kindling,  nailing  up  a  rickety  balcony,  and 
hauling  fifty-pound  sacks  of  peat  and  fertilizer  from  the  terrace 
where  the  delivery  boy  had  dumped  them.  With  some  amuse- 
ment she  reported  the  doctor's  orders: 


That  I  must  not  garden  so  much  -  not  lift  heavy  things  and  that  I 
must  rest  for  two  hours  (he  said  lie  down)  every  day!!  I  can  not  lie  down 
that  long  daily  -  too  much  to  do  just  to  keep  this  small,  quite  unimportant 
household  running.  But  I  can,  with  joy,  take  all  that  time  to  sit  and  read 
and  sew.  I'll  try  it.  Also  I  can  neglect  the  garden  but  not  cheerfully.  The 
only  pleasant  remark  was  that  he  mistook  me  for  a  woman  of  60,  instead 
of  71  1/2.^^ 

For  years  Miss  Percival  had  dreamed  of  moving  to  a  more 
convenient  house.  "I  wonder  if  there  is  anything  in  the  world 
I  enjoy  more  than  ideally  planned  and  arranged  homes?"  she 
asked  herself  in  1906.  "It  is  true,  and  I  do  not  apologize  -  that 
to  me  domestic  duties  are  'fine  arts.'  My  'dream'  house  is 
beautiful;  everything  in  it  is  beautiful  in  the  truest  sense;  the 
management  of  it  is  intelligent;  and  all  who  enter  are  soothed 
or  inspired.  William  Morris  would  know  what  I  mean. 

She  purchased  a  building  lot  in  1930,  and  for  the  rest  of 
her  life  she  made  plans  for  a  little  Elizabethan  cottage  that  she 
tentatively  named  Primrose  Court.  In  1939  she  wrote,"No 
dreams  left  except  a  dimming  one  of  new  house  (with  enough 
book-shelves,  closets,  fireplaces)  on  Pasadena  lot  -  and  a  much 
smaller  garden  with  a  fruit  tree  walk,  terraces  (some  of  them 
trellis-inclosed,  for  jasmine  and  roses),  a  long  perennial  border, 
a  tiny  out-of-doors  'theater,'  an  herb  garden  and  a  croquet 
ground.  Hope  this  dream  will  continue  to  be  a  comfort."  '  It 
was  indeed  a  comfort,  but  it  remained  a  dream. 

Lack  of  shelf  space  did  not  keep  Miss  Percival  from  adding 
to  her  library.  One  of  her  last  purchases  recalled  an  early 
memory  of  Los  Angeles.  "The  Major  Truman  book  came 
today,"  she  wrote  in  1 941 .  "He  used  to  take  the  same  street-car. 
.  .  .  The  Major  (white,  silvery  hair,  pink  checks  were  his), 


immaculate  and  always  with  kid  gloves  (brown)  and  an  empty 
market  basket  stared  at  everyone  as  he  walked  down  the  aisle. 
Once  he  winked  at  me.  He  did  want  to  know  me  and  I  am  sorry 
I  did  not  make  his  acquaintance,  as  he  had  interesting  pioneer- 
ing years.  But  I  was  always  dignified  on  the  old  South  Pasadena 


car  ride."  The  last  diaries  took  special  note  of  two  other 
additions  to  her  library:  a  book  on  Japanese  prints  and  a  book 
on  roses  by  the  great  English  horticulturist  Ellen  Willmot. 

A  passionate  Anglophile,  Miss  Percival  grieved  when  Eng- 
land was  caught  up  in  war,  and  she  suffered  vicariously  through 
the  Blitz.  One  newspaper  item  moved  her  especially.  "Almost 
wept,"  she  said,  "when  I  read  of  the  annual  Daffodil  Show  in 
London  yesterday!  The  joy  those  flowers  brought  to  the  people 
working,  living,  so  bravely  in  that  devastated  city  of  blackened 
rubble!  "'^-^ 

Miss  Percival  also  grieved  that  Japan,  which  she  so  ad- 
mired, was  now  an  enemy  country.  She  still  defended  Japanese 
culture,  and  she  remained  loyal  to  her  Japanese  friends.  A 
poignant  entry  in  her  1943  diary  reads:  "Surprise  box  from  poor 
dear  Mrs.  Sakai,  at  Manzanar.  She  sends  a  delightful  toy  -  a 
pink  yarn  poodle!!"  The  Sakais,  whom  she  had  known  for  at 
least  twenty  years,  stored  many  of  their  belongings  at  the 
Down-hyl  Claim  when  they  left  for  an  internment  camp. 

During  the  forties  Miss  Percival  was  saddened  by  the 
deaths  of  many  old  friends,  including  sculptor  Julia  Bracken 
Wendt,  painter  Eugene  Torrcy,  and  fellow  garden  enthusiast 
Charles  Francis  Saunders.  And  she  was  desolate  at  parting  with 
a  more  recent  friend,  Charles  (Jack)  Masse,  when  he  moved 
to  Northern  California  in  1942.  Masse  was  twenty  years 
younger  than  Miss  Percival,  but  he  shared  her  interest  in 


gardens,  books,  antiques,  and  music.  He  gave  amusing  parties 
in  his  log  cabin  by  the  Arroyo  Seco;  and  he  was  a  frequent 
guest  at  the  Down-hyl  Claim,  sometimes  reading  aloud  to  Miss 
Percival  or  singing  favorite  songs,  including  one  of  her  own 
poems  that  he  had  set  to  music.  "I  cannot  think  of  any  man  as 
talented,  as  courteous  and  as  charming  and  as  admirable  as 
he,"  she  wrote  in  1941.  "I'm  glad  we've  been  such  good  friends 
for  five  or  six  years.  I  regret  I  am  so  much  older  than  he.  (The 


most  companionable  man  I  know.)"  A  year  later  she  said 
goodbye  to  Masse.  "We  had  tea  but  no  music,"  she  wrote 
after  a  sad  farewell. 

Lonely,  despondent  over  the  war,  and  in  continued  poor 
health,  Miss  Percival  wrote  in  December  1942,  "I've  been  very 


depressed,  but  pray  unceasingly  for  Courage,  Faith."  When 
she  again  took  up  her  diary,  in  May  1943,  her  mood  seemed 
tranquil.  "Cool  but  sunny  and  flower-sweet!"  she  wrote.  "The 
grasses  are  ripened  and  yellowed.  The  red  roses  are  all  bloom- 
ing but  nearly  done.  Am  so  glad  to  see  about  six  of  the  lovely 
old-fashioned  Jacqueminots.  And  the  honeysuckle  is  heavenly 
sweet  and  more  abundant  than  ever,  which  compensates  for 


so  much  that  is  over  or  dead." 

Her  last  diary  notes  are  those  of  a  dedicated  gardener.  On 
October  12, 1943,  she  wrote,  "The  hot  weather  continues.  How 
I  shall  rejoice  when  rain  falls  on  the  thirsty  garden,  the  dusty 
trees."  A  few  days  later  she  observed,  "A  fairy  mist,  a  silvery 
fog  like  a  thick  chiffon  veil. . . .  Hope  it  means  rain."  It  did, 
indeed.  "A  nicely  cleansed  world!"  she  wrote  on  October  18. 
"An  Aprilly  day  with  glorious  blue  sky,  fluffy  white  clouds  & 
then  a  shower  every  hour  or  so!"  Freed  of  the  burden  of 
watering  the  garden,  she  happily  planted  bulbs,  took  daphne 


cuttings,  potted  Billbergia.  That  evening  she  and  her  little  black 
cat,  Bon-bon,  enjoyed  the  warmth  of  the  fireplace,  lit  for  the 
first  time  that  season.  Later  she  looked  from  her  bedroom 
window  and  observed  that  "the  night  sky  was  a  glory  -  thick 
with  stars."^^^ 

Apparently  Miss  Percival  kept  no  diaries  after  1943,  She 
continued  to  find  pleasure  in  her  garden,  a  pleasure  she 
expressed  in  "Anodyne": 

Old?  Old?  Old? 

Nay,  nay,  not  yet, 

Except  by  carefully  calendared  years,  - 

For  I  have  this  bird-haunted,  tree-shaded  garden 

To  work  in,  read  books  in,  drink  tea  in, 

To  dream  dreams  in  - 

To  remember  -  forget!  ^''^ 

It  was  in  her  garden,  in  November  1944,  that  she  suffered 
a  stroke.  She  lay  in  the  garden  overnight,  with  Bon-bon  as 
companion,  until  a  neighbor  found  her.  Miss  Percival  spent  her 
final  days  in  a  Pasadena  rest  home,  in  a  pleasant  room  filled 
with  books  and  flowers.  "She  is  anxious  to  keep  her  room 
fragrant,"  one  visitor  reported,  "and  told  me  that  she  keeps 
herself  'immersed  in  fragrant  powders.'  "  Olive  Percival 
died  on  February  19, 1945,  at  the  age  of  seventy-five.  Her  ashes 
were  buried  on  a  hillside  at  Forest  Lawn,  next  to  the  grave  of 
actress  Alia  Nazimova,  whom  she  had  once  compared  to  some 
wonderful  and  oversweet  fiower,  like  tuberoses  or  datura. 

On  her  seventy-second  birthday  Miss  Percival  had  written 
out  her  will.  "I,  Olive  Percival,  spinster,"  it  began,  "being 
mindful  of  the  uncertainty  of  life  in  this  beautiful  world,  hereby 


record  that  I  wish  to  dispose  of  my  property  (trivial  yet 
precious)  as  follows."  She  left  carefully  considered  gifts  to 
fifty-two  friends.  To  landscape  architect  Charles  Gibbs  Adams, 
for  example,  she  left  her  best  potted  daphne  and  Ellen  Will- 
mot's  magnum  opus.  The  Genus  Rosa.  To  etcher  Mildred 
Bryant  Brooks  she  left  a  Whistler  etching;  and  to  poet  Hil- 
degarde  Planner  she  left  books  by  and  about  Louise  Imogene 
Guiney  and  Emily  Dickinson.  To  Jack  Masse,  in  sentimental 
remembrance  of  pleasant  times  together,  she  left,  among  many 
other  things,  her  favorite  fireside  chair  and  a  William  Wendt 
painting  and  sketch  of  the  Down-hyl  Claim.  All  her  real 
property  she  left  to  her  devoted  friends  Alice  Gibbs  and 
Florence  Moore  Kreider,  whom  she  named  as  executors. 

Her  will  benefited  several  institutions:  Scripps  College,  the 
Children's  Home  Society,  the  Society  for  the  Preservation  of 
New  England  Antiquities,  the  Casa  de  Adobe,  the  Pasadena 
Humane  Society,  and  the  Pasadena  Institute  of  the  Arts  (which 
received  some  of  her  treasured  tea  things,  both  Oriental  and 
Occidental).  To  Scripps  went  an  exuberant  collection  of  dolls 
and  doll  furniture,  paper  dolls,  miniature  toys,  textiles,  hats, 
costumes,  valentines,  and  daguerreotypes.  "I  do  believe  all 
these  will  serve  as  valuable  Americana  to  The  Students  within 


the  next  two  or  three  generations,"  she  said.  Miss  Percival 
felt  a  special  bond  with  Scripps,  not  only  because  it  was  a 
woman's  college  but  because  one  of  the  original  trustees  was 
Margaret  Brewer  Fowler,  who  had  been  her  warm  and 
generous  friend. 

In  drawing  up  her  will.  Miss  Percival  did  not  forget  herself. 
She  arranged  for  the  publication  of  two  of  her  manuscripts: 
Our  Old-fashioned  Flowers  (with  the  copyright  assigned  to  the 


Pasadena  Humane  Society)  and  Yellowing  I\y,  a  collection  of 
her  poems.  She  instructed  that  the  books  be  printed,  simply 
but  well,  by  Ward  Ritchie.  They  are  charming  little  volumes, 
pleasant  to  the  hand  and  eye. 

"Also,  if  not  too  selfish,  fantastic,"  she  requested,  "I  would 
like  Mr.  Paul  Howard,  of  Los  Angeles,  to  grow  a  Rose  to  be 


named  for  me."  In  1949  Howard  patented  an  Olive  Percival 
Rose,  described  in  his  catalog  as  cherry  red,  of  luminous  quality, 
with  blooms  of  great  charm  and  grace.  An  Olive  Percival  Rose 
was  planted  at  the  White  House,  and  it  also  was  chosen  to 
honor  the  teachers  of  America;  but  it  did  not  succeed  commer- 

"What  shall  endure  even  for  a  generation  to  show  that 

1 OQ 

Olive  Percival  once  lived?"  the  mistress  of  the  Down-hyl 
Claim  asked  despairingly  as  she  neared  her  fortieth  birthday. 
The  answer  lies  in  three  prestigious  libraries,  each  with  a 
Percival  Collection.  The  collection  inherited  by  Scripps,  with 
its  joyful  abundance  of  dolls  and  doll  clothes,  paper  dolls,  and 
little  toys,  inspires  a  holiday  exhibit  held  every  four  years  at 
Christmas  time.  It  is  a  fitting  tribute  to  someone  who  once 
declared,  "I  love  being  a  Christmas-keeper!" 

The  University  Research  Library  at  UCLA  owns  thirty 
boxes  of  Percival  material,  including  letters,  photographs  and 
negatives,  scrapbooks,  guest  books,  typescripts  of  articles  and 
poems.  Miss  Pcrcival's  own  bookplates  (plus  those  she 
designed  for  friends),  and  hundreds  of  her  handmade  book- 
marks. UCLA  also  owns  the  Olive  Percival  Collection  of 


Children's  Books,  more  than  five  hundred  volumes  that  span 
two  centuries  of  juvenile  literature,  from  a  1707  edition  of 
Elizabethan  epigrams  to  the  1914  edition  of  Walter  Crane's 
Sleeping  Beauty  and  Blue  Beard.  Nearly  three-fourths  of  the 
books  are  British  imprints,  and  many  have  historic  and  biblio- 
graphic information  written  on  the  flyleaves  in  Miss  Percival's 
small,  neat  hand.  The  collection  includes  ABC  books,  spellers, 
primers,  chapbooks,  nursery  rhymes,  natural  histories,  and 
treatises  on  manners  and  morals.  Absent,  however,  are  Miss 
Percival's  beloved  Kate  Greenaways,  for  these  were  not  of- 
fered to  the  university.  Even  so,  Lawrence  Clark  Powell,  Chief 
Librarian  when  UCLA  purchased  the  collection,  called  it 
perhaps  the  finest  of  its  kind  in  a  public  library  in  the  West. 
Powell  acquired  the  books  (at  the  bargain  price  of  a  thousand 
dollars)  from  Ernest  Dawson,  who  bought  Miss  Percival's 
library  after  her  death. 

Also  at  UCLA,  in  its  William  Andrews  Clark  Memorial 
Library,  are  some  of  the  volumes  of  17th  and  18th  century 
literature  collected  by  Miss  Percival.  Many  of  her  books  in  the 
two  UCLA  libraries  still  wear  the  hand-lettered  jackets  that  she 
fondly  made  for  them.  As  she  once  explained,  after  covering  some 
volumes  with  bits  of  wallpaper  and  Italian  blockprint  paper, 
"The  poor  little  books  looked  so  shabby  and  forlorn  and  were 
falling  to  pieces.  Books  are  not  inanimate  things!" 

The  Huntington  Library  owns  more  than  seven  hundred 
photographs  (most  dating  from  the  turn  of  the  century)  that 
Miss  Percival  took  in  Mexico,  Los  Angeles,  San  Pedro,  and  San 
Francisco.  Also  at  the  Huntington  are  three  book-length 
manuscripts  that  Miss  Percival  had  dearly  hoped  to  publish: 
'Aunt  Abby  and  Others,"  "The  Children's  Garden  Book,"  and 


"The  Green  Balcony  and  Other  Little  Incidents  of  Old  China- 
town." Of  more  interest  to  scholars  are  the  diaries  spanning 
more  than  fifty  years.  The  originals  are  at  the  Huntington.  A 
typescript  of  two  thousand  pages  is  in  the  UCLA  Library,  and 
another  copy  is  at  Scripps  College.  Lawrence  Clark  Powell,  who 
had  the  transcript  made,  once  considered  editing  the  diaries,  but 
they  are  as  yet  unpublished. 

Sometimes  the  diaries  serve  as  a  kind  of  Baedeker  to 
downtown  Los  Angeles  -  suggesting,  for  example,  where  to 
shop  for  fancy  groceries,  have  a  pleasant  luncheon,  or  enjoy 
afternoon  tea.  In  addition  the  diaries  take  note  of  changing 
mores,  such  as  the  first  dinner  party  at  which  Miss  Percival  saw 
women  smoking.  (It  was  in  1909,  at  the  home  of  Southwest 
Museum  director  Hector  Alliot.) 

The  diaries  also  refer  (for  the  most  part  with  disapproval) 
to  a  changing  cityscape.  When  a  new  museum  opened  in 
Exposition  Park  in  1913,  Miss  Percival  described  it  as  an  ugly 
building  on  a  wretched  site.  When  the  new  central  library, 
designed  by  Bertram  Goodhue,  opened  downtown  in  1926,  she 
lamented  that  it  had  little  beauty  and  insufficient  light.  When 
Bullocks  Wilshire  opened  for  business  in  1929,  she  thought  the 
Art  Deco  building  was  interesting  but  not  charming.  In  1921 
she  visited  "the  new  and  wondered-about  Hotel  Ambassador" 
and  declared  it  "over-advertised,  as  all  California  achievements 
arc!  Shops  were  sweet  but  the  furnishings  of  the  hotel  proper 
seemed  both  scant  and  mediocre.  And  not  a  tub  of  Lilacs, 
Roses,  Lilies  on  the  staircases  and  along  the  corridors  as  are 
seen  in  Eastern  hotels."  She  ended  her  architectural  re- 
marks on  a  happier  note  in  1940,  delighted  that  her  friend 
Dwight  Gibbs  was  working  for  the  preservation  of  three 


buildings  in  the  historic  center  of  Los  Angeles  -  the  Pico 
House,  the  Merced  Theater,  and  the  Baker  Block-  all  of  them 
fairly  new  when  she  first  arrived  in  the  city. 

The  diaries  give  fascinating  glimpses  of  artists,  actors, 
writers,  society  leaders,  and  career  women  who  played  a  role 
in  the  intellectual  life  of  Los  Angeles  from  the  turn  of  the 
century  until  the  1940s.  Above  all  the  diaries  portray  a  woman 
who  resolutely  created  for  herself  a  world  of  beauty  that  helped 
compensate  for  thirty  years  of  uncongenial  work  and  much 
personal  unhappiness.  She  found  beauty  in  nature,  books,  and 
art.  The  shadow  of  sycamore  branches  by  moonlight  (resem- 
bling an  old  Japanese  stencil)  gave  her  as  much  sensual  delight 
as  a  vellum  binding  or  a  raku  jar.  In  her  quest  for  beauty  she 
became  a  passionate  collector  of  exquisite  things  and  a  con- 
noisseur of  Oriental  art.  She  was  also  a  respected  bibliophile, 
an  inspired  gardener,  and  a  celebrated  hostess.  Not  a  great 
artist,  she  nevertheless  showed  talent  as  a  poet,  a  photo- 
grapher, and  a  creator  of  paper  whimsies. 

Despite  her  accomplishments,  a  sense  of  failure  haunted 
her.  "I  wonder  if  it  has  been  well  to  have  kept  diaries  all  my 
life,"  she  asked,  for  in  them  she  confided  her  dreams, 
self-doubts,  and  disappointments.  She  destroyed  many  of  the 
volumes,  but  those  that  survive  give  valuable  insights  into  an 
era  and  into  a  remarkable  woman.  Praise  usually  embarrassed 
her,  but  Olive  Percival  cherished  the  words  of  an  admiring 
friend  who  said,  "You  are  a  wonder  to  me  with  that  quiet 
tenacious  sense  of  beauty  fostered  in  the  crudest  town  in  all 
the  U.  S.  .  .  .  When  you  are  dead,  my  lady,  others  yet  unborn, 
toiling  and  beauty-hungry  women  will  know  of  you  and  learn 

1 17 

something  of  the  secret." 


1.  Diary  of  Olive  Percival,  January  28,  1896,  Olive  Percival  Collection, 
Henry  E.  Huntington  Library,  San  Marino.  Unless  otherwise  indicated,  all 
manuscript  citations  are  from  material  in  the  Huntington.  The  author 
appreciates  the  opportunity  to  use  the  collection,  as  well  as  the  Olive  Percival 
Collection  at  Scripps  College  in  Claremont  and  at  the  University  of  California, 
Los  Angeles. 

2.  Percival,  "For  the  75th  anniversary  of  Sheffield  Church,"  November 
3,  1929. 

3.  Diary,  May  17,  1896. 

4.  Diary,  June  30,  1896. 

5.  Diary,  February  9,  1896. 

6.  Diary,  May  9,  1899. 

7.  Mary  Austin,  California,  The  Land  of  the  Sun  (London:  Adam  and 
Charles  Black,  1914),  pp.  30-31. 

8.  Mexico  City  Herald,  March  31,  1901. 

9.  Charles  F  Lummis,  "That  Which  Is  Written,"  Land  of  Sunshine  14 
(May  1901):  424.  The  diaries  are  never  complimentary  to  Lummis,  whom 
Miss  Percival  characterized  as  a  poseur  and  tippler.  She  had  unbounded 
admiration,  however,  for  his  first  wife,  Dorothea  Rhodes  Lummis  Moore. 

10.  Diary,  June  14,  1906.  In  1906  Amanda  Mathews  published  Hiero- 
glyphics of  Love:  Stories  of  Sonoratown  and  Old  Mexico,  based  on  her 
experiences  as  a  teacher  in  Mexico  City  and  in  the  Mexican  community  of 
Los  Angeles.  She  married  Congregational  minister  and  author  Charles  Edwin 
Chase  in  1914. 

11.  Memo  book,  "Biographical  Trivia  for  Memory  Sketches,"  August 

12.  Diary,  October  21,  1910. 

13.  Bobbs-Merrill  Company  to  Olive  Percival,  October  3,  1912. 

14.  Diary,  September  7,  1911. 

15.  Diary,  September  14,  1911. 

16.  Diary,  December  7,  191 1.  In  addition  to  writing  about  the  Western 
desert,  Mrs.  Strobridge  established  the  Artemisia  Bindery  ("At  the  Sign  of  the 
Sagebrush")  on  the  Arroyo  Seco,  published  local  authors,  and  exhibited  the 
work  of  local  artists.  She  and  Olive  Percival  shared  an  interest  in  genealogy. 


17.  Diary,  January  25,  1912. 

18.  Travel  diary,  March  3,  1910. 

19.  Notes  by  Olive  Percival  in  Friday  Morning  Club  Scrapbook  #33, 
program  for  December  1910,  Friday  Morning  Club  Collection,  Huntington 
Library.  Over  a  period  of  forty  years  Miss  Percival  kept  almost  all  of  the  club's 
program  notices,  pasting  them  neatly  into  scrapbooks  and  sometimes  adding 
comments  on  the  speakers  or  rating  them  with  hearts  or  zeros.  Three  of  Miss 
Percival's  closest  friends  were  prominent  members  of  the  Friday  Morning 
Club:  Edith  Cohn,  Florence  Moore  Kreider,  and  Jane  Wright. 

20.  Diary,  April  8, 191 1.  The  exhibit  featured  two  thousand  bookplates, 
including  seven  of  her  own  designs.  For  more  about  Olive  Percival  as 
bookplate  designer  and  collector,  see  Clare  Ryan  Talbot,  Historic  Bookplates 
in  California  (Los  Angeles:  Graphic  Press,  1936),  pp.  104,  109-110.  See  also 
Audrey  Spencer  Arellanes,  "Olive  Percival  and  Her  Bookplates,"  in  American 
Society  of  Bookplate  Collectors  and  Designers,  Year  Book,  forthcoming. 

21.  Travel  diary,  February  24,  1910. 

22.  "Would  Woman's  Vote  Suppress  Anarchy?"  Los  Angeles  Times, 
October  16,  1910. 

23.  Diary,  May  14,  1912.  On  October  10,  1911,  iht  Los  Angeles  Times 
had  predicted  that  woman  suffrage  would  unsex  society,  destroy  the  home, 
and  place  an  intolerable  burden  on  women. 

24.  Diary,  October  30,  1908. 

25.  Hildegarde  Flanner,  "My  Late  Miss  Percival:  A  Different  Image," 
Huntington  Library,  HM  49982.  See  also  the  published  version  in  Different 
Images:  Portraits  of  Remembered  People  (Santa  Barbara,  California:  John 
Daniel,  1987),  pp.  73-94. 

26.  Diary,  January  13,  1909. 

27.  Diary,  February  28,  1911. 

28.  Diary,  July  12,  1911. 

29.  Diary,  July  7,  1911. 

30.  Diary,  January  29,  1914. 

31.  Diary,  September  6,  1907. 

32.  Diary,  December  13,  1905. 

33.  Diary,  December  21,  1906. 

34.  Diary,  May  2,  1907. 

35.  Diary,  June  26,  1935. 


36.  Diary,  May  19,  1933.  For  a  brief  history  of  the  store,  see  Fern 
Dawson  Shochat,  The  Fiftieth  Anniversary  of  Dawson's  Book  Shop:  1905-1955 
(Los  Angeles:  Dawson's  Book  Shop,  1955). 

37.  Diary,  January  21,  1932. 

38.  Homer  P.  Earle,  "  W.  Irving  Way:  Rescued  from  the  Archives,"  Hoja 
Volante  91  (February  1968):  6. 

39.  Diary,  June  23,  1915. 

40.  Diary,  February  20,  1915. 

41.  Diary,  April  21,  1915.  For  more  about  the  Millards  and  Irving  Way 
in  California,  see  Robert  Rosenthal,  "Los  Angeles  «fe  Chicago:  Two  Cities, 
Two  Bibliophiles,"  in  John  Bidwell,  ed.,  A  Bibliophile's  Los  Angeles  (Los 
Angeles:  William  Andrews  Clark  Memorial  Library,  UCLA,  1985),  pp.  3-27. 

42.  Diary,  December  5,  1924. 

43.  Diary,  December  19,  1907. 

44.  Diary,  October  10,  1913. 

45.  Diary,  June  5,  1914. 

46.  Diary,  October  15,  1909. 

47.  Diary,  February  13,  1907. 

48.  Diary,  January  27,  1908. 

49.  Diary,  May  22,  1908. 

50.  Diary,  June  23,  1915. 

51.  Olive  Percival  to  Wilfred  Kurth,  March  4,  1929,  Olive  Percival 
Collection,  University  Research  Library,  UCLA  (119/3/1/5). 

52.  Diary,  April  8,  1929. 

53.  Garden  diary,  February  25,  1924. 

54.  Diary,  July  28,  1924. 

55.  Diary,  August  25,  1929. 

56.  Percival,  "The  Down-hyl  Claim:  The  Garden,"  Tlie  House  Beautiftd 
34  (September  1913):  102. 

57.  Percival,  "The  Children's  Garden  Book,"  pp.  1-2. 

58.  Diary,  March  8,  1920. 

59.  Diary,  December  8,  1911. 

60.  Garden  diary,  November  15,  1914. 

61.  Diary,  December  19,  1907. 

62.  Diary,  October  17,  1917. 

63.  Diary,  March  27,  1932. 


64.  Diary,  March  28,  1933. 

65.  "The  Down-hyl  Claim:  The  Story  of  Building  the  House,"  The 
House  Beautiful  35  (January  1914):  36. 

66.  Planner,  HM  49982. 

67.  Diary,  March  11,  1922. 

68.  Diary,  May  14,  1914. 

69.  Diary,  October  3,  1912. 

70.  Wilbur  Macey  Stone,  "A  Showing  of  Paper  Dolls  and  Other  Cut-out 
Toys,  From  the  Collection  of  Wilbur  Macey  Stone,"  Newark  (N.  J.)  Museum 
catalog  for  exhibit  December  7,  1931-February  29,  1932,  p.  15.  Sketches  of 
some  of  Miss  Percival's  paper  dolls  appeared  in  Edith  Flack  Ackley,  Paper 
Dolls,  Their  History  and  How  to  Make  Them  (New  York:  Frederick  A.  Stokes, 

71.  Diary,  December  8,  1934. 

72.  Diary,  October  3,  1912. 

73.  Diary,  February  7,  1932. 

74.  Diary,  February  18,  1932. 

75.  Diary,  May  22,  1908. 

76.  Diary,  June  15,  1934. 

77.  Diary,  June  6,  1933.  Florence  Moore  Kreider  was  president  of  the 
Friday  Morning  Club  from  1924  to  1925.  She  served  on  three  municipal 
commissions:  the  Playground  Commission,  the  first  Board  of  Motion  Picture 
Censorship,  and  the  Los  Angeles  Board  of  Charities. 

78.  Diary,  October  29,  1932. 

79.  Diary,  February  18,  1932. 

80.  Diary,  September  19,  1934. 

81.  Diary,  October  1,  1929. 

82.  Diary,  December  5,  1932. 

83.  Diary,  August  20,  1933. 

84.  Diary,  June  2,  1934. 

85.  Olive  Percival  to  Norman  Bridge,  December  27,  1923.  Miss  Percival 
hoped  for  an  advance  from  Bridge,  who  once  told  her  to  let  him  know  if  she 
could  not  find  a  publisher.  Bridge  was  a  benefactor  of  the  I,os  Angeles 
Symphony,  the  California  Institute  of  Technology,  and  the  Southwest  Mu- 
seum. In  1918  he  asked  Miss  Percival  to  lend  some  porcelain  to  the  museum, 
but  she  thought  the  galleries  were  too  poorly  lighted  for  a  satisfactory  exhibit. 


86.  Percival,  "Aunt  Abby  and  Others:  Pictures  and  Impressions  of  the 
American  Background,  1830-1930,"  p.  341. 

87.  Diary,  April  15,  1931. 

88.  Percival,  "Christmas  Tree  Market,"  Yellowing  I\y  (Los  Angeles:  The 
Ward  Ritchie  Press,  1946),  p.  36. 

89.  Diary,  November  8,  1940. 

90.  Diary,  November  23,  1940. 

91.  Diary,  March  4,  1940. 

92.  Diary,  January  30,  1906 

93.  Diary,  July  11,  1939. 

94.  Diary,  January  23,  1941.  The  book  was  Semi-Tropical  California  by 
Benjamin  Cummings  Truman,  author,  editor,  publisher,  booster,  and  bon 

95.  Diary,  April  19,  1941. 

96.  Diary,  June  3,  1943. 

97.  Diary,  October  5,  1941. 

98.  Diary,  August  20,  1942. 

99.  Diary,  December  2,  1942. 

100.  Diary,  May  6,  1943. 

101.  Diary,  October  16,  1943. 

102.  Diary,  October  18,  1943. 

103.  Percival,  "Anodyne,"  Yellowing  hy,  p.  37. 

104.  Mira  Culin  Saunders  to  Jane  Wright,  November  26,  1944,  Olive 
Percival  Collection,  University  Research  Library,  UCLA  (119,  Box  1,  Cor- 

105.  Percival,  Last  Will  and  Testament,  July  1,  1941,  Olive  Percival 
Collection,  University  Research  Library,  UCLA  (119,  Box  1). 

106.  Ibid. 

107.  Margaret  Fowler  was  the  widow  of  wealthy  lumberman  Eldridge  M. 
Fowler,  who  died  in  1904.  She  was  instrumental  in  founding  the  George  Junior 
Republic  of  California  (now  the  Boys  Republic),  to  which  she  donated  221 
acres  in  the  Chino  Valley.  Mrs.  Fowler  initiated  the  practice  of  making  Delia 
Robbia  wreaths  ornamented  with  seed  pods  and  other  plant  materials,  and 
selling  them  to  benefit  the  school. 

108.  Last  Will  and  Testament,  July  1,  1941. 

109.  Diary,  May  26,  1908. 


110.  Diary,  November  28,  1922. 

111.  For  more  about  the  collection,  see  Robert  R.  Hertel,  "Remember- 
ing Childhood,"  Library  Journal  78  (January  1,  1953):  23-31,  and  Lawrence 
Clark  Powell,  Fortune  &  Friendship:  An  Autobiography  (New  York  and 
London:  R.  R.  Bowker,  1968),  pp.  120-121. 

112.  Diary,  May  19,  1916. 

113.  For  his  appreciative  remarks  on  Olive  Percival,  see  Lawrence  Clark 
Powell,  The  Alchemy  of  Books  (Los  Angeles:  The  Ward  Ritchie  Press,  1954), 
pp.  142-145. 

114.  Diary,  February  26,  1921. 

115.  The  Pico  House  and  Merced  Theater,  on  Main  Street,  have  been 
declared  State  Historical  Landmarks.  The  Baker  Block  was  demolished  to 
make  way  for  the  Hollywood  Freeway.  Altadena  architect  Dwight  Gibbs 
helped  design  the  interior  of  the  Pasadena  Playhouse.  For  twenty  years  he 
and  his  wife  Alice  were  among  Miss  Percival's  closest  friends. 

116.  Diary,  June  25,  1933. 

117.  Fay  Coughlin,  quoted  in  Diary,  April  6,  1912. 


Arellanes,  Audrey  Spencer.  "Olive  Percival  and  Her  Bookplates." 
In  American  Society  of  Bookplate  Collectors  and  Designers,  Year 
Book,  forthcoming. 

Di  Biase,  Linda  Popp.  "Forgotten  Woman  of  the  Arroyo:  Olive 
Percival."  Southern  California  Quarterly  66  (Fall  1984):  207-219. 

Planner,  Hildegarde.  "My  Late  Miss  Percival:  A  Different  Image." 
In  Different  Images:  Portraits  of  Remembered  People.  Santa  Barbara: 
John  Daniel,  1987,  pp.  73-94. 

Hertel,  Robert  R.  "Remembering  Childhood."  Library  Journal  78 
(Jan.  1,  1953):  23-31. 

Powell,  Lawrence  Clark.  "Books,  People,  and  the  Earth  on  Which 
We  Live."  In  Vie  Alchemy  of  Books.  Los  Angeles:  The  Ward  Ritchie 
Press,  1954,  pp.  142-145. 

Books  by  Olive  Percival 

Leaf-Shadows  and  Rose-Drift,  Being  Little  Songs  from  a  Los 
Angeles  Garden.  Cambridge:  Printed  at  the  Riverside  Press,  1911. 

Mexico  City:  An  Idler's  Mote-Book.  Chicago:  Herbert  Stone  and 
Company,  1901. 

Our  Old-fashioned  Flowers.  Pasadena:  The  Ward  Ritchie  Press, 

Yellowing  Ivy.  [Los  Angeles]:  The  Ward  Ritchie  Press,  1946. 

Articles  by  Olive  Percival 

"The  Down-hyl  Claim:  The  Garden."  The  House  Beautiful  34 
(September  1913):  102-104. 

"The  Down-hyl  Claim:  The  Story  of  Building  the  House."  The 
House  Beautiful  35  (January  1914):  36-39. 

"Individual  Christmas  Cards:  The  Drawings  of  George  Wolfe 
Plank."  Vie  House  Beautiful  37  (December  1914):  20-21. 


"The  Lost  Art  of  Indian  Basketry."  Demorest's  Family  Magazine 
(February  1897). 

"Note  on  the  Wood-Engraving  of  George  Wolfe  Plank."  Book- 
plate Booklet  3  (May  1910):  50-53,  70. 

"Some  Los  Angeles  Bookplates."  Tlie  House  Beautiful  36  (August 
1914):  92-93. 


Jane  Apostol 

The  Olive  Percival  Collection  at  the  Huntington  Library  is 
uncataloged,  except  for  the  photographs,  which  are  in  the 
photo  archives.  Three  literary  manuscripts,  'Aunt  Abby,  and 
Others,"  "The  Children's  Garden  Book,"  and  "Once,  In  Old 
Chinatown,"  were  purchased  from  the  estate  of  Olive  Percival 
in  1946.  All  other  material  was  the  gift  of  her  executor, 
Florence  Moore  Kreider,  and  came  to  the  library  in  install- 
ments from  1945  to  1948. 

The  listing  below  is  primarily  by  type  of  material, 


Garden  Diaries:  1913-1926  and  1930-1931;  8  volumes 

Personal  Diaries:  1889-1899,  1905-1926,  1929-1936,  1939-1942,  and 

1943  (scattered  entries);  23  volumes 
Travel  Diaries: 

Memoranda  of  My  Eastern  Journey,  August  16, 1903-January  12, 

[Journey  to  East  Coast,  January  15-April  10,  1910] 

[San  Diego  Notes,  June  1914,  June  1915] 

San  Francisco  Exposition,  1916 

Manuscripts  by  Olive  Percival 


The  Children's  Garden  Book.  [Frontispiece  by  George  Plank, 
decorations  by  the  author.  Bound] 


Typescripts  (continued:) 

Aunt  Abby  and  Others:  Pictures  and  Impressions  of  the  American 

Background,  1830-1930,  From  Cape  Cod  to  Los  Angeles. 

Once,  In  Old  Chinatown.  Sketches  in  Outline.  [Originally  called 

"The  Green  Balcony,  and  Other  Little  Incidents  of  Old 

Chinatown."  Bound;  second  copy,  unbound] 

Stories  set  in  Chinatown 

And  the  Sins  of  the  Parents 

Better  Deaf 

A  Daughter  of  Time 


The  Foolishness  of  Fools 

The  Girl  of  the  Four  Jade  Bracelets 

Miss  Wong's  Strategem 

Of  a  Friendship 

The  Rhapsody  of  Kim  Wah 

The  Story  of  Owyang 

The  Story  of  Red-Lily 

The  Three  Felicities 

A  Trivial  Life 

When  the  Long  Night  Comes 


At  Dusk 

At  Eighteen 

Laughing  Garden 

Life,  My  Life 

Morning  Comes  -  Night  Comes 

The  Old  House 

The  Old  Mirror 


To  Remember 

Other  Writings 

Ta'o  copies  of  article  "sent  to  Sarah  Boyden  for  the  75th  anniversary  of 
the  Congregational  Church,  Sheffield,  Illinois,  3  November  1929". 


Travel  Notes 


My  First  Visit  to  San  Diego  and  La  JoUa,  May  1912 

My  Third  Visit  to  San  Diego  and  La  JoUa,  November  1920 


Ca.  1901-1937;  15  volumes 

Various  topics:  recording  purchases  of  books  and  prices,  pur- 
chases of  silver,  books  wanted,  obituaries  (yearly  lists  of 
friends  who  have  died),  notes  from  books  read,  notes  on 
places  visited,  etc.  Also  one  volume,  order  book  for  Leaf- 
Shadows  and  Rose-Drift 

Drawings  by  Olive  Percival 

Sketchbook:  San  Antonio  Canyon,  1893 
Sketchbook:  Mexico,  1899 

Watercolor:   plan  of  central  part  of  Los  Angeles  in   1847,  with 
explanatory  notes,  1918 

Photographs  Taken  by  Olive  Percival 

Album  217  (1-752) 

1-57:  San  Pedro  waterfront  views,  1906 
58-132:  Los  Angeles  Chinatown,  1894-1911 
133-164:  San  Francisco  Chinatown,  ca.  1897-1903,  with  emphasis  on 

165-172:  Mission  San  Luis  Rcy,  1899;  Pasadena  residence,  1906; 

Friday  Morning  Club,  ca.  1906;  Pershing  Square,  1927 
173-274:  The  Down-hyl  Claim  (522  San  Pascual  Ave.,  LA):  exterior 

views  of  Miss  Percival's  house  and  garden,  1910-1939 
275-347:  The  Down-hyl  Claim:  interior  views,  1901-1941 
348-394:  Tombstones  in  Calvary,  Fort  Hill,  and  Mission  San  Gabriel 

cemeteries,  ca.  1890-1922,  with  emphasis  on  1922 


Photographs  Taken  by  Olive  Percival  (continued:) 

395-720:  Views  of  Mexico,  1899 
721-749:  Exterior  views  of  Down-hyl  Claim 

750-752:  Miscellaneous,  including  house  at  1217  S.  Hill,  Los  An- 
geles, 1895 

Inclusive  dates:  1912-1946;  15  items 

Includes  letters  from:  Bobbs  Merrill  Co.,  J.  B.  Lippincott  Co., 
Florence  Moore  Kreider,  and  Ella  Mae  Riggs  to  the  Huntington 


Includes:  paper  bookmarks,  cut  and  pasted  by  Olive  Percival,  73 
book-plates  collected  by  Olive  Percival  (many  with  cat  motifs), 
handmade  folders  (one  with  articles  written  by  Wilbur  Macey  Stone 
or  referring  to  his  collections),  scrapbook,  engagement  books  for  1908 
and  1914;  book  presented  to  Olive  May  Percival  in  recognition  of  25 
years  continuous  representation  of  The  Home  Insurance  Co.,  New 
York,  January  1,  1921;  catalog  from  Paul  J.  Howard's  California 
Flowerland,  full-color  picture  on  cover  of  the  Olive  Percival,  "an 
exquisite  new  Paul  J.  Howard  Rose  for  1949," 

Miscellaneous  Illinois  items 


Article  on  Illinois  history,  2  sermons,  newspaper  clippings 

Also  in  the  Percival  Collection  are  manuscript  items  related  to  Anna 
Held  Hcinrich,  Ellen  Terry,  the  Byam  family,  Jamie  Spring  Peet,  et 
al.  Appended  to  a  sketch  written  about  Rebecca  Buffum  Spring  are 
remarks  by  Olive  Percival  on  Jennie  Spring  Peet. 


Hildegarde  Planner  Collection 


Memoir  of  Olive  Percival,  November  8,  1983  (HM  49980) 

My  Late  Miss  Percival:  A  Different  Image,  September  22,  1983 

(HM  49982) 

Hildgarde  Planner  to  Olive  Percival,  116  letters,  1923-1944  (HM 

Mary  Ellen  Hockett  Planner  to  Olive  Percival,  1924-1928  (HM 

Olive  Percival  to  Hildegarde  Planner,  1926-1944  (HM  50110- 

Olive  Percival  to  [John  Monhoff,  1943?]  (HM  50113) 

Edwin  Hill  Bliss  Collection 

Olive  Percival  to  Ida  May  Van  Dyke  Holme,  February  3,  1905  (Box 

Myron  Hunt  Collection 
Olive  Percival  to  Virginia  Pease  Hunt,  August  31,  1915  (Box  12:24) 

Friday  Morning  Club  Scrapbooks 

Albums  33-35,  1903-1941,  belonged  to  Miss  Percival,  who  pasted  in 
her  program  notices  and  occasionally  added  comments  on  the 

Katherine  P.  Bumham  Bookplate  Collection 
Contains  10  of  Olive  Percival's  personal  bookplates 



Dan  Luckenbill 

In  1946  Lawrence  Clark  Powell  purchased  for  UCLA  527  of 
Olive  Percival's  children's  books,  primarily  English.  This  was 
to  form  the  core  of  what  has  become  one  of  the  half-dozen 
finest  collections  in  North  America.  Gifts  to  the  UCLA  Library 
of  Olive  Percival's  manuscripts,  correspondence,  photographs, 
and  realia  came  shortly  after,  primarily  from  Florence  Moore 
(Mrs.  Samuel)  Kreider,  executrix  of  the  Percival  estate  (1949- 
1950)  and  Jane  (Mrs.  George  V.)  Wright.  Other  items  were 
given  by  Miss  Theresa  Levy  and  Hortense  (Mrs.  Lemuel) 
Goldwater  (1949),  Mrs.  Kirby  (1949),  Marjorie  Van  Deusen 
(1950),  Mrs.  Henry  B.  Pflueger  (1950),  Ward  Ritchie  (1950 
and  1959),  Dawson's  Book  Shop  (1983),  and  Edith  Armer 
(Mrs.  Morris)  Cohn  (date  of  gift  unknown). 

Further  material  relating  to  Olive  Percival  and  her  circle 
can  be  found  by  checking  the  Manuscripts  Catalog  (not  yet  on- 
line); for  example,  one  of  Frank  Hazenplug's  drawings  for  Miss 
Percival's  Mexico  City:  An  Idler's  Note-Book. 

The  material,  which  now  comprises  forty-five  document 
boxes,  has  been  processed,  most  having  been  done  by  Brooke 
Whiting  in  1961.  The  finding  aid  in  the  department  gives 
complete  descriptions  of  most  material.  The  following  list  is 
primarily  by  type  of  material,  with  a  brief  indication  of  the 


Affiliations,  Subscriptions,  Contributions,  1911-1939;  13  items 

The  American  Society  of  Colonial  Familes,  the  Friday  Morning 
Club,  Japan  Society  (London),  Japanese  Relief  Committee 
for  Southern  California,  etc. 

Articles  by  Olive  Percival 

"Browsings  in  an  Old  Book  Shop."  Clipping  from  the  Graphic, 

July  18,  1914 
"August.  A  poem."  Clipping  from  Saturday  Night.  August  26, 

"About  Sake,  and  the  Pleasing  Art  of  Seike-Sets."  Clipping  from 

The  Craftsman,  June  1904 
"The  Story  of  Suey  Ho  Yee."  Published  in  From  the  Old  Pueblo... 
"The  Down-hyl  Claim:  1  -  The  Garden."  Clipping  from  Tlie  House 

Beautiful,  [September  1913] 
"The  Down-Hyl  Claim:  2  -  The  Story  of  Building  the  House." 

Clipping  from  Vie  House  Beautiful,  January  1914 
"The  Lost  Art  of  Indian  Basketry."  Demorest's  Family  Magazine, 

February  1897 

Biographical  Information,  1941-1949  and  no  date;  23  items 

Clippings,  tributes,  typed  sheet  of  events  in  Olive  Percival's 
childhood,  letters  about  Olive  Percival,  and  information 
about  the  disposition  of  her  properties,  including  information 
from  Dawson's  Book  Shop 

Books  by  Olive  Percival 

Mexico  City:  An  Idler's  Note-Book... 
Leaf-Shadows  and  Rose-Drift... 
Yellowing  Ivy 

Books,  Pamphlets,  etc.  from  Olive  Percival's  Library;  13  items 

Some  have  family  associations,  some  are  records  of  organizations, 
such  as  the  Severance  Club,  Los  Angeles,  the  Japan  Society, 
London,  catalogs  of  Asian  art,  etc. 

Bookmarks,  1916  and  no  date;  13  items 

Made  from  paper  cut-outs,  birch  bark 
Bookplates;  12  document  boxes 

Also  Christmas  greetings 


Children's  Books,  Book  Lists;  8  items 

Catalogs  and  articles.  Dawson's  (1947)  features  books  from  Olive 

Percival's  collection 
Index  to  Books  in  Percival's  Collection  of  Children's  Books 
Christmas  lists 

Clippings;  14  document  boxes 
Clippings,  ephemera,  pictures,  and  plates  for  pictures,  all  relating  to 

Olive  Percival  and  her  Collection;  1  document  box 
Correspondence  with  Home  Insurance  Company,  1908-1929;  9  items 
Correspondence  with  Jane  (Mrs.  George  V.)  Wright,  1945-1946;  ca. 

30  items 
Correspondence  (various),  1891-1945;  ca.  100  items 
Diaries  (personal),  transcripts;  5  document  boxes 
Guest  Books 

The  Down-hyl  Claim,  The  Gueste  Booke  of  Mistresse  Olive 
Percival,  Spinster,  Who  abides  near  the  faire  cittie  of  Los 
Angeles  &  in  the  goodlie  Province  of  California  (the  last 
signature  is  dated  1936) 
Mistresse  Olive  Percival,  Spinster,  Her  Guest  Booke,  The  Down- 
hyl  Claim,  Los  Angeles  (from  1910;  the  last  entries  are  dated 
Letters  to  Florence  Moore  (Mrs.  Samuel)  Kreider,  1945-1946,  about 

Olive  Percival;  ca.  30  items 
Manuscripts  (most  are  typescripts  or  carbon  copies;  undated,  except 

for  those  which  give  indications  that  they  were  copied  or  were  to 

be  delivered  as  lectures): 

A  Word  about  Japanese  Ceramics  [read  by  Mrs.  Stilson,  Ruskin 
Art  Club,  1909?] 

Anthology  of  Modern  Verse  [poems] 

At  Eighteen 

Children's  Bookplates 

Children's  Books  of  1905  [The  Friday  Morning  Club,  24  Novem- 
ber 1905] 

The  Christmas  Card  Drawings  of  George  Wolfe  Plank  [pub- 
lished in  Vie  House  Beautiful] 


Manuscripts  (continued:) 

Christopher  Columbus  and  His  Four  Voyages.  To  be  read  May 
25,  '81 

Concerning  Music  Plates 

The  Down-hyl  Claim 

In  Pursuit  of  the  Antique  in  Modern  New  England  [read  before 
the  Friday  Morning  Club  of  Los  Angeles,  March  18,  1904] 

Japanese  Poems:  Fireflies,  Dragon  FHes  [manuscript  in  Japanese 
style  notebook;  copied  by  Olive  Percival,  1911] 

Japanese  Poems:  Love  [manuscripts  copied  in  1911] 

My  Hats  and  Bonnets  of  the  Yester  Years  [typed  list] 

Old  Fashioned  Flower  Gardens 

Our  Old-fashioned  Flowers 

Regina  O'Kane 

Some  Japanese  Poems  [copied  for  Florence  Moore,  1912] 


To  Remember  [poem] 

Where  Are  the  Bonnets  of  Yester  Year  [notes  apparently  collec- 
ted from  an  article  of  this  title] 

William  Vaughn  Moody 
Memorandum  Book  of  Purchases  (1905-1933)  zmd  Engagement  Book 

Miscellaneous,  1920-1947;  ca.  40  items 

Paper  cut-outs,  cards,  bits  of  paper  and  cloth,  pressed  leaves  and 

Catalog  of  Paul  J.  Howard's  California  Flowerland  with  illustra- 
tion in  color  of  the  Olive  Percival  Rose  [added  to  the 
collection  in  1948] 

Stationery  box,  clippings 

Engraved  illustrations 

Notes  written  to  Mrs.  Wright  by  Olive  Percival 

Boxes:  candy  box 

Wrapping  paper 
Negatives  of  photographs  taken  by  Olive  Percival;  ca.  2,000  items 

Some  are  glass  negatives 


Personal  Notes 

Cards  and  scraps  of  paper  with  notations,  sometimes  with  ad- 
dresses, impressions  of  people:  Ernest  A.  Batchelder,  Carrie 
Jacobs  Bond,  Sheldon  Cheney,  May  Curran,  Mary  E.  Foy, 
Charles  F.  Lummis,  Amanda  Mathews,  Wilbur  Macey  Stone, 
Idah  Meacham  Strobridge 
Names  and  addresses  torn  from  envelopes 
Notes  for  cooking,  childhood  memories,  Christmas  cards  (one  is 

Down-hyl  Claim,  1923) 
Gardening  duties 

Place  card,  signed  "With  my  love,  Swami  Prabhavananda"  from 
dinner  March  1939,  1946  Ivar  St.,  Hollywood 
Pictures,  framed  and  unframed,  1845-1925  and  no  date;  ca.  115  items 
Wilbur  Macey  Stone  (1938),  Olive  Percival  in  her  garden  (1915), 
Mrs.  Percival  (1891,  1925),  cats,  flowers,  garden,  tea  kettles, 
furnishings  and  interiors 
Scrapbooks,  1937  and  no  date;  6  items 

Clippings  about  her  writings  and  clippings  of  poems 
Wood  Chest  and  46  cuts 

Cuts  are  for  bookplates,  Christmas  cards,  etc.  (some  for  Olive 
Zinc  blocks  based  on  Olive  Percival's  designs  and  pictures;  1  docu- 
ment box 



Judy  Harvey  Sahak 

Bequeathed  to  Scripps  Q)llege  were  Olive  Percival's  collec- 
tions of  cards,  dolls  and  doll  furniture,  miniatures,  paper  toys, 
photographs,  and  valentines.  She  states:  "I  believe  all  these 
will  serve  as  valuable  Americana  to  The  Students  within  the 
next  two  or  three  generations," 

The  collections  are  uncataloged  except  for  three  books 
written  by  Olive  Percival.  A  detailed  list  of  the  collections  was 
prepared  by  student  assistant  Kira  Koplos  in  1991  following  an 
inventory.  Student  assistants  prepare  an  exhibit  of  the  Percival 
Collection  every  four  years  at  Holiday  time  to  give  students  a 
glimpse  of  everyday  life  in  the  early  twentieth  century. 

Advertisements.  Four  almanacs  (1884-1892);  101  advertisements, 
mostly  for  paper,  books,  clothes,  hats.  (Many  from  the  Japan 
Paper  Company) 

Articles.  Nine  miscellaneous  articles  on  valentines;  fourteen  articles 
and  books  on  dolls 

Books  by  Olive  Percival:  Leaf-Shadows  and  Rose-Drift,  Cambridge: 
Riverside  Press,  191\\  Mexico  City:  An  Idler's  Note-Book,  Chicago: 
Herbert  Stone,  1901;  Our  Old-fashioned  Flowers ,  Pasadena:  Ward 
Ritchie,  1947;  Yellowing  Ivy,  Los  Angeles:  Ward  Ritchie,  1946 

Boxes.  Six  large  wooden  hat  boxes;  eleven  miniature  hat  boxes  which 
hold  many  doll  clothes;  eighty  cardboard  boxes.  (All  of  the  boxes 
were  hand  decorated  by  Olive  Percival  with  applied  bits  of  paper, 
doilies,  ribbons,  etc.) 

Cards.  135  Christmas  cards;  one  album  with  greeting  cards  (mostly 
Christmas  and  New  Year's);  34  miscellaneous  cards.  (Includes 
bookmarks,  miscellaneous  picture  cards,  many  from  the  early 
twentieth  century) 


Correspondence.  41  letters  from  children  to  Olive  Percival;  six  letters 
from  doll  expert  Wilbur  Macey  Stone;  nine  letters  from  Frank 
Baer,  expert  on  valentines.  (Miss  Percival  wrote  brief  description 
on  envelopes) 

Doll  Clothes.  Includes  dresses,  coats,  skirts,  purses,  mittens,  socks, 
sweaters,  pants,  shoes,  and  shirts.  Most  of  the  doll  clothes  appear 
to  have  been  handsewn  with  particular  dolls  in  mind 

Dolls.  18  ceramic  dolls  (l"-5");  seven  porcelain  busts  (2"-6");  13  dolls 
with  porcelain  heads  and  cloth  and  leather  bodies;  one  wooden 
doll  (8");  two  wooden  and  leather  dolls  (8"  and  10");  one  corncob 
doll  (7");  four  dolls  with  papier-mache  heads  and  cloth  bodies 
(14"- 18").  (Many  of  the  dolls  have  names  ["Tommy  Tlicker," 
"Pinky,"  "Evelina"];  most  are  dressed  and  have  tags  specifying 
where  they  were  acquired  and  their  history) 

Hats.  211  (less  than  2"  in  diameter);  68  (more  than  2"  in  diameter). 
Handwritten  diary  by  Olive  Percival,  detailing  hat  styles  and  their 
use  from  1840  to  1916.  (The  hats  were  all  handmade  by  Miss 
Percival  of  straw,  fabric,  beads,  lace,  ribbons,  plumes  -  all  styles 
of  hats  from  many  cultures  and  time  periods) 

Paper  Dolls.  361  (T'-IO").  Includes  170  accessories  ranging  from  chairs 
and  clothing  to  animals.  Doll  dresses  are  two-sided  with  petticoats 
underneath.  Represented  are  not  only  ladies,  but  boys,  girls,  and 
types  (e.g..  Club  Presidents  and  Fat  Ladies) 

Photographs.  73  (of  76)  daguerreotypes,  ambrotypes,  and  tintyjies;  one 
leatherbound  notebook  with  notes  on  the  collection.  Fifty  photographs, 
presumably  taken  by  Olive  Percival.  Nine  framed  photographs  of 
Miss  Percival  and  her  garden  of  hats  and  dolls 

Postcards.  100  from  all  over  the  world.  (Mostly  black  and  white,  some 

Tea  Sets.  Eleven  tea  sets,  with  cups  ranging  from  1/2"  to  2"  in  diameter 

Toys  and  Miniatures.  Nearly  200  pieces  in  wood,  metal,  glass.  Includes 
musical  instruments,  animals,  human  figures,  complete  town 
scenes,  farmyards,  and  doll  furniture  (tables,  stoves,  chairs,  tools, 
chests,  etc.) 

Valentines.  175  valentines  from  1820-1930  (22  of  the  oldest  are 
framed);  13  valentines  handmade  by  Olive  Percival  and  mailed 
from  one  doll  to  another  (r'-3") 

1.  Spring  Street  and  the  People's  Store,  which  hired  Olive  Percival  as 
a  salesclerk  in  1887.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 

'''"'\  ^v'*'"^  ^-^    <  ,,4, 

Vi-Ll>|^        i>-         S-*.—^^' 

\',^>^*tu^     vj;X>-v,     4-'-^        & .-iT^vv ,  ^  GL^ 


2.  Even  her  handwriting  revealed  Olive  Percival's  decorative  sense, 
as  shown  by  this  manuscript  page  from  her  diary.  (Courtesy  of 
Huntington  Library.) 

i- t\'vj^  ,    e^'Ky  -        ^>-^^^^,^^ 



3.  Olive  Percival  drew  this  amusing  sketch  on  a  camping  trip  in  1893. 
She  and  her  friends  took  the  new  wagon  road  into  San  Antonio 
Canyon,  below  Mount  Baldy.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 

^.^  * 




•^-^^^^^  .^ir^m»nifp^.m. 

4.  A  photograph  taken  by  Olive  Percival  shows  her  Arroyo  Seco 
cottage,  the  Down-hyl  Claim,  around  1900.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington 

5.  During  a  brief  visit  to  Mexico  in  1899  Olive  Percival  took  hundreds 
of  photographs.  Some  were  used  to  illustrate  a  novel  written  by  her 
friend  Jane  Torrey  Connor.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 

6.  "Is  there  anywhere  a  more  uniquely  picturesque  'street'  of  sea-side 
cottages  than  the  Breakwater?"  OHve  Percival  asked  when  she  took 
this  San  Pedro  photograph  in  1906.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 

7.  Olive  Pcrcival  took  this  photograph  in  the  Old  Chinatown  section 
of  Los  Angeles  in  1902.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 



J^/l  )sj 

3»  -  1 

8.  One  of  the  water-color  sketches  with  which  Ohve  Percival  illustra- 
ted her  guest  books.  (UCLA  Special  Collections.) 

J    llClr^     ^^    ^tcy      '£^-^^ — .      c^L 





2  ^^  /?/.  c/^'7?777^^.Y* 


9.  Idah  Meacham  Strobridgc,  of  the  Artemisia  Bindery,  signed  Olive 
Percival's  guest  book  with  this  whimsical  sketch.  (UCLA  Special 



fy^^i.  ?(<u*(V> 

10.  George  Wolfe  Plank  designed  this  bookplate  for  Olive  Percival's 
garden  books.  He  also  designed  a  music  marker  for  her.  Plank 
illustrated  several  books,  including  one  by  Vita  Sackville-West,  and 
he  drew  covers  for  Vogue  and  Vanity  Fair.  (UCLA  Special  Collections.) 

11.  In  1912  Olive  Percival  found  a  pleasant  new  diversion:  making 
paper  dolls.  (Courtesy  of  Denison  Library,  Scripps  College.) 



A^B^Px^  TEAT 

12.  Olive  Percival  sketched  seven  garden  plans  for  her  "Children's 
Garden  Book,"  a  manuscript  that  she  never  published.  Her  Kate 
Grecnaway  garden  plan  featured  a  grassy  area,  old-fashioned  flowers 
along  the  garden  walk,  and  bright  color  accents  in  the  gates  and 
garden  furniture:  old  gold,  canary  yellow,  peacock  blue,  Chinese  red, 
and  various  shades  of  green.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington  Library.) 





/•    •    •    • 

•    •    •    •^' 

13.  One  of  the  handmade  valentines  that  Olive  Percival  delighted  in 
sending  to  her  friends.  (Courtesy  of  Mildred  Bryant  Brooks.) 

14.  Olive  Percival  and  her  mother  photographed  by  Charles  Francis 
Saunders  in  his  Pasadena  garden  in  1927.  (Courtesy  of  Huntington 

This  hook  was  prepared  with  Xerox  Ventura  Publisher  2.0 
and  published  by  UCLA  Publication  Services